Taxonomy and nomenclature

Identification and Taxonomy:
Identification of subgenera and species in Tetraselmis depends on characters that are visible only with the electron microscope. Keys and catalogs that do not use these ultrastructural characteristics are not reliable. Unfortunately, the PID authors are aware of no ultrastructure-based revision of the subgenus Tetrathele, a major subgenus containing several species used in cell biology and aquaculture. Subgenera that have been revised are Tetraselmis, Prasinocladia and Parviselmis (see Selected references).

Species in the genus Scherffelia lack pyrenoids, but otherwise are, in morphology, practically indistinguishable from species of Tetraselmis. Further work is needed to find out if these two genera should be merged into one, not least because Scherffelia dubia is a significant experimental organism; it has been used to examine the structure and function of the cytoskeleton and the endomembrane system of cells, and to study the composition and self-assembly of surface structures (scales).

The generic names Aulacochlamys, Prasinocladus, and Platymonas are all synonyms of Tetraselmis; the synonymy was published in 1980. Even so, these names, especially Platymonas, still appear in culture collection listings, molecular sequence databases, and the scientific literature. The ordinal name Chlorodendrales and family name Chlorodendraceae derive from Chlorodendron, a later (hence discarded) synonym of Prasinocladus (and, therefore, of Tetraselmis).

For lookalike algae, see Similar genera.

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