Diversity and composition of algal epiphytes on the Mediterranean seagrass Cymodocea nodosa: a scale-based study

S Tsioli , V Papathanasiou , A Rizouli, Μ Kosmidou , C Katsaros, Ε Papastergiadou , Frithjof Kuepper, S Orfanidis * (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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Cymodocea nodosa, a typical marine angiosperm species in the Mediterranean Sea, hosts a range of epiphytic algae. Epiphyte abundance varies at different spatial scales, yet epiphyte diversity and community composition are poorly understood. This study explores the epiphytes on C. nodosa from two reference meadows (Thasos, Vrasidas) and one anthropogenically stressed meadow (Nea Karvali) in the northern Aegean Sea (Kavala Gulf, Greece). A nested destructive sampling design at three spatial scales (metres, hundreds of metres, kilometres) and stereoscopic/microscopic observations were used. Light microscopy revealed a total of 19 taxa of macroalgae populating the leaves of C. nodosa. The most commonly encountered taxa with highest cover (%) were Hydrolithon cruciatum and Feldmannia mitchelliae. DNA sequencing (18S rDNA) confirms the presence of a number of dinoflagellate and red algal epiphytes, and this represents the first application of DNA metabarcoding to study the diversity of seagrass epiphytes. Epiphytic communities studied at species/taxon and functional (Ecological Status Groups) levels separated the reference lowstressed meadows from the degraded one, with the functional approach having higher success. The Ecological Evaluation Index classified the studied meadows into different Ecological Status Classes according to anthropogenic stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-118
Number of pages18
JournalBotanica Marina
Issue number2
Early online date15 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

This work has been conducted at the Fisheries Research Institute (ELGO DIMITRA) as an undergraduate dissertation of Soultana Tsioli at the University of Patras with supervisors Prof. E. Papastergiadou and Dr. S. Orfanidis. FCK received funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, program Oceans 2025 – WP 4.5 and grants NE/D521522/1 and NE/J023094/1). Sequencing was conducted at the Molecular Genetics
Facility (MGF) of NERC, supported by grant MGF 154.


  • Macroalgae
  • abundance
  • image analysis
  • functional groups
  • metabarcoding


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