Further expansion of the alien seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia var. distichophylla (Sonder) Verlaque, Huisman & Procacini (Ulvophyceae, Bryopsidales) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Marilena Aplikioti, Paraskevi Louizidou, Alexandra Mystikou, Melina Marcou, Petros Stavrou, Stefanos Kalogirou, Konstantinos Tsiamis, Panayotis Panayotidis, Frithjof C. Kuepper

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Caulerpa taxifolia var. distichophylla (Sonder) Verlaque, Huisman and Procacini is a green alga of Australian origin recently reported as an alien species in the Mediterranean Sea, where it is known from SE Turkey, Sicily, Cyprus and Malta. In the current study we present additional records of this taxon, expanding its known distribution into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, and provide additional records from Cyprus and the first records
from Rhodes Island (Greece). Our specimens were identified through a combination of morphological and molecular methods involving sequencing of ITS and tufA. Locally, C. taxifolia var. distichophylla occurred in high abundances and dominated the benthic community, suggesting that has the potential to become a major pest in the Mediterranean. It was also observed over a very wide depth range, from the sea surface to at least 100 m
depth, on a variety of natural soft and hard substrates as well as abandoned fishing nets, suggesting a broad environmental plasticity. One of the findings reported here constitutes the deepest record of an alien Caulerpa in the Mediterranean Sea, even though it remains to be demonstrated that it actually grows at this site and depth rather than being merely a drift specimen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalAquatic Invasions
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to Andreas Antoniou (Dep. of Environment,
Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development & Environment,
Cyprus) for his assistance in the preparation of the illustrations. We
would also like to thank Dr. Sotiris Orfanidis (NAGREF – Fisheries
Research Institute, Kavala, Greece) for his valuable advice and both
the DFMR and HSR / HCMR Rhodes crew and George Hatiris for
their help in samplings. Special thanks are due to Dinos Leonidou
(SeaQuest Divers Cyprus) for accompanying the deep dive for
sampling Caulerpa at Cavo Greco. We are grateful to the Total
Foundation (Paris) for its funding support to this study within the
framework of the project “Brown algal ecology and biodiversity in
the eastern Mediterranean Sea” and to the MASTS pooling initiative
(Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland, funded
by the Scottish Funding Council and contributing institutions; grant
reference HR09011).


  • alien
  • Caulerpa taxifolia var. distichophylla
  • green algae
  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • Cyprus
  • Rhodes


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