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Print version ISSN 0370-6583On-line version ISSN 2175-7860

Rodriguésia vol.66 no.4 Rio de Janeiro  2015 

Original Papers

Update of the Brazilian floristic list of Algae and Cyanobacteria

Mariângela Menezesc1 

Carlos E. M. Bicudo

Carlos W. N. Moura

Aigara M. Alves

Alana A. Santos

Alexandre de G. Pedrini

Andréa Araújo

Andrea Tucci

Aurelio Fajar

Camila Malone

Cecília H. Kano

Célia L. Sant'Anna

Ciro Z. Branco

Clarisse Odebrecht

Cleto K. Peres

Emanuel B. Neuhaus

Enide Eskinazi-Leça

Eveline Aquino

Fabio Nauer

Gabriel N. Santos

Gilberto M. Amado Filho

Goia M. Lyra

Gyslaine C.P. Borges

Iara O. Costa

Ina de S. Nogueira

Ivania B. Oliveira

Joel. Paula

José M. de C. Nunes

Jucicleide C. Lima

Kleber R.S. Santos

Leandro C. Ferreira

Lísia M.S. Gestinari

Luciana S. Cardoso

Marcia A.O. Figueiredo

Marcos H. Silva

Maria B.B.B. Barreto

Maria C.O. Henriques

Maria da G.G.S. Cunha

Maria E. Bandeira-Pedrosa

Maria F. Oliveira-Carvalho

Maria T.M. Széchy

Maria T.P. Azevedo

Mariana C. de Oliveira

Mariê M. Cabezudo

Marilene F. Santiago

Marli Bergesh

Mutuê T. Fujii

Norma C. Bueno

Orlando Necchi Jr.

Priscila B. Jesus

Ricardo G. Bahia

Samir Khader

Sandra M. Alves-da-Silva

Silvia M.P.B. Guimarães

Sonia M.B. Pereira

Taiara A. Caires

Thamis Meurer

Valéria Cassano

Vera R. Werner

Watson A. da Gama Jr.

Weliton J. da Silva


An updated synthesis of cyanobacteria and algae information is presented for Brazil aiming to refine the data gathered to date and evaluate the progress of the biodiversity knowledge about these organisms in the country since the publication of the Catálogo de Plantas e Fungos do Brasil. The results of 2015 showed an increase of 1,250 species (35.7%) when compared to 2010, reaching a total of 4,747 species. The most diverse classes in species number were the Bacillariophyceae, Conjugatophyceae, Florideophyceae, Cyanophyceae, Dinophyceae and Euglenophyceae. Bacillariophyceae and Cyanophyceae had the highest increase in species number in the five-year interval. The Southeast and South regions were the most diverse, however, the Northeast, with the states of Piauí and Sergipe, and the Central-west region, with Mato Grosso, Goiás and Distrito Federal, also stood out in the national algal biodiversity scenario. Despite the shortage of taxonomists and limited infrastructure, the results showed a significant improvement in the knowledge regarding the diversity of cyanobacteria and algae in the country during the study period, starting to even out regional geographical differences caused by subsampling.

Key words: Biodiversity; phycology


Apresenta-se uma síntese atualizada de informações sobre algas no Brasil objetivando refinar os dados reunidos até o presente, bem como avaliar os avanços sobre o conhecimento da diversidade de algas no país desde a publicação do Catálogo de Plantas e Fungos do Brasil. Os resultados de 2015 mostraram um acréscimo de 1.250 espécies (35.7%) a um total de 4.747 em relação a 2010. As classes mais diversas em número de espécies foram Bacillariophyceae, Conjugatophyceae, Florideophyceae, Cyanophyceae, Dinophyceae e Euglenophyceae. Bacillariophyceae e Cyanophyceae tiveram o maior acréscimo de espécies no intervalo de cinco anos. A região Sudeste e Sul foram as mais diversas, porém, as regiões Nordeste com os estados do Piauí e Sergipe e Centro-Oeste com os estados de Mato Grosso, Goiás e Distrito Federal destacaram-se no cenário da biodiversidade nacional. Apesar da escassez de taxonomistas e da infraestrutura limitada, os resultados obtidos evidenciaram um avanço significativo no conhecimento da diversidade de algas no país nesse período de cinco anos, iniciando uma mudança quanto as diferenças geográficas regionais.

Palavras-chave: Biodiversidade; ficologia


The publication of the Algae and Cyanobacteria (Bicudo & Menezes 2010) in the Catálogo de Plantas e Fungos do Brasil (Forzza et al. 2010) represents a milestone for the phycological knowledge in the country and worldwide. Until then, there was no single compilation presenting detailed information of these organisms' diversity in different parts of Brazil. The knowledge was dispersed in regional or local lists (e.g. CordeiroMarino 1978; De-Lamonica-Freire 1989a, 1989b; Senna et al. 1998; Menezes & Dias 2001; Oliveira et al. 2002; Torgan et al. 2003) and/or restricted to particular algal groups (p.ex. Moreira-Filho et al. 1985; Torgan et al. 1999, 2001; Alves-da-Silva & Hahn 2001; Guimarães 2006; Tremarin et al. 2009; Procopiack et al. 2006).

Since the publication of the Catálogo de Plantas e Fungos do Brasil, several new local and regional lists focusing on specific algal groups and general catalogues were published. Diatoms of central-western Brazil (da Silva et al. 2011); Chlorophyceae of Mato Grosso (Freitas & LoverdeOliveira 2013); cyanobacteria and continental Algae of Pará (Costa et al. 2014); deep sea macroalgae associated to rodolith beds in coastal Espírito Santo (Amado Filho et al. 2010); bentonic algae from the Laje Santos, São Paulo (Jorge et al. 2012); macroalgae in the islands off the coast of Paraná (Pellizari et al. 2014); bentonic algae from Sergipe's coast (Pereira et al. 2014); and the revised and updated checklist of macroalgae from the Abrolhos Archipelago and Sebastião Gomes reef, state of Bahia (Torrano-Silva & Oliveira 2014a).

Numerous articles regarding new records for Brazil and descriptions of new species have also been published. Increased collecting effort, especially in deep waters, and molecular biology studies have generated valuable knowledge. DNA barcoding tecniques helped to perform more precise identifications and also led to the correction of former determinations that incurred in erroneous citations of taxa that, in fact, do not occur along the Brazilian coast. Some examples are publications by Sutherland et al. (2011), Bahia et al. (2011), Cassano et al. (2012), Carvalho et al. (2012), Alves et al. (2012), Bahia et al. (2013), Jesus et al. (2013), Pellizzari et al. (2013), Rocha-Jorge et al. (2013), Bahia et al. (2014a, 2014b), Henriques et al. (2014), Moura et al. (2014), Nauer et al. (2014a, b), Nunes et al. (2014), Torrano-Silva et al. (2014b), Jesus et al. (2015) and Lyra et al. (2015).

New occurrences and, more noticeably, the description of new taxa of microalgae were also a result of the increase in collection efforts, particularly the work regarding diatoms and cyanobacteria carried out by Wetzel et al. (2012a, b), Gama Jr. et al. (2012), Burliga et al. (2013), Caires et al. (2013), Santos et al. (2013) and Tremarin et al. (2013).

The present paper aims to present a synthesis of the updated list of Brazilian Algae based in the new records, literature and herbarium data added between 2010 and 2015. The objective was to refine and update the data initially gathered, adjusting what was published for Algae in the Brazilian Catalogue (Bicudo & Menezes 2010) and to examine the information compiled in the Brazilian List over the past five years.


Methodology followed that published by Forzza et al. (2010). Taking the Algae list published by Bicudo & Menezes (2010) as a starting point, new taxa and occurrences for Brazil were included in the online system together with voucher information and/or literature reference stating the presence of a given taxon in Brazil, its geographic distribution, environment and life-form.

The taxonomic status of all names was checked and nomenclatural updates followed Guiry & Guiry (2015) and other recent relevant articles, such as Krienitz & Bock (2012) and Gómez (2013).

Changes in class circumscription meant that previously recognized classes Prymnesiophyceae and Rhodophyceae were not featured in the 2015 version of the Brazilian List. The first was included in Coccolithophyceae, while the latter was broken down into four different classes: Bangiophyceae, Florideophyceae, Porphyriophyceae and Stylonematophyceae.

Genera Verdigellas D.L.Ballan. & J.N.Norris and Palmophyllum Kütz. (formerly included in Ulvophyceae), Micromonas Manton & Parke, Pseudoscourfieldia Manton and Pyramimonas Schmarda were placed in the Prasinophyceae. Partial resolution of the phylogenetic relationships of these genera was provided by Marin & Melkonian (2009) and Fučíková et al. (2014) leading to the adoption of the 'prasinophytes' group concept, coined by Leliaert et al. (2012).

The complete dataset used for the present analyses can be found at the Brazilian List of Algae (see supplementary material <http://dx.doi. org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1538646> - DOI: 10.1590/2175-7860201566408). This new dataset includes, as well as the Brazilian states and regions of occurrence for the taxa, the distribution by hydrographic region for the continental Algae in order to provide data for biogeographic studies and conservation strategies. Under the definition of the Brazilian National Council for Water Resources (Conselho Nacional de Recursos Hídricos - CNRH) an hydrographic region represents the territorial space comprised by a drainage basin or group of basins or sub-basins close to each other and with homogeneous or similar natural, social and economic attributes, established through Brazilian law (Resolution 32 of the CNRH, published 15/10/03). Each hydrographic region constitutes an administrative region and also a main unit for planning and management of water resources, falling under the responsibility of the CNRH. Furthermore, the integrated management of combined hydrographic basins, such as the implantation of a network of conservation units, is an example of an adequate model to select suitable conservation regions, favouring connectivity of the habitats within and between the hydrographic basins (Hero & Hidway 2006).

Therefore, according to the CNRH (see above), Brasil is currently divided into 12 hydrographic regions: 1) Amazonian (states of Acre, Amazonas, Rondônia and Roraima, Pará, Mato Grosso and Amapá); 2) East Atlantic (Sergipe, Bahia, Minas Gerais and of Espírito Santo); 3) Northeast Occidental (Pará and Maranhão); 4) Northeast Oriental (Piauí, Ceará, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas and Pernambuco); 5) Southeast Atlantic (Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo (25% of Southeastern Brazilian region) and Paraná); 6) South Atlantic (Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul); 7) Paraguay (Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso); 8) Paraná (São Paulo, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Santa Catarina and Distrito Federal); 9) Parnaíba (Piauí, Maranhão and Ceará); 10) São Francisco (Minas Gerais, Distrito Federal, Goiás, Bahia, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe); 11) TocantinsAraguaia (Goiás, Tocantins, Pará, Maranhão, Mato Grosso and Distrito Federal); and 12) Uruguay (Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina).


The analysis of the 2015 Brazilian List of Algae (see supplementary material <http://> - DOI: 10.1590/2175-7860201566408) shows the algae and cyanobacteria diversity divided in 29 classes, 1,018 genera, 4,747 species, 12 subspecies and 1,424 varieties. The Incertae sedis category was added in 2014 to include taxa referred for Brazil in 19th century publications for which the systematic positioning remains unsure (39 species). When compared with the data from 2010 (Fig. 1) an increase of 1,711 taxa, 12 classes, 189 genera, 1,250 species, four subspecies and 457 varieties. Of these, 33 are new taxa described for Brazil by a total of 48 Brazilian researchers in the following groups: Cyanophyceae (13), Bacillariophyceae (12), Florideophyceae (11), Conjugatophyceae (four), Trebouxiophyceae (three), Florideophyceae (nine), Bangiophyceae (three), Ulvophyceae (seven) (Tab. 1).

Figure 1 Number of algae and cyanobacteria for Brazil distributed by taxonomic levels in 2010 and 2015. 

Table 1 Distribution of the number of new species of algae and cyanobacteria described by their publishing Brazilian authors between 2010 and 2015. 

Number of new species Number of authors
≥7 2
3-4 3
1-2 43

The ten most diverse classes were: Bacillariophyceae with 1,247 species, followed by the Conjugatophyceae (610), Florideophyceae (489), Cyanophyceae (462), Dinophyceae (420), Euglenophyceae (367), Chlorophyceae (352), Ulvophyceae (217), Phaeophyceae (103) and Coccolithophyceae (91). There were no changes regarding the diversity of classes Chrysophyceae, Cryptophyceae, Dictyocophyceae, Raphidophyceae, Synurophyceae and Xanthophyceae. On the other hand, a drop in the number of taxa in the Charophyceae followed the exclusion of the Desmidiaceae, nowadays considered as part of the Conjugatophyceae. The Rodophyceae were increased by 36 genera and 111 species. The classes that saw the largest increases in species numbers in 2015 were the Bacillariophyceae and the Cyanophyceae (Tab. 2).

Table 2 Number of algae and cyanobacteria genera and species recorded in 2010 and 2015, distributed by class. (-) - Not included in 2010 or 2015; (*) - Included in Coccolithophyceae in 2014; (**) - subdivided in 2015 in Bangiophyceae, Compsopogonophyceae, Florideophyceae, Porphyriophyceae and Stylonematophyceae. GEN: genera, SP: species 

In terms of epicontinental or marine environment, eleven classes are exclusively epicontinental (Charophyceae, Chlorodendrophyceae, Chlorophyceae, Coleochaetophyceae, Conjugatophyceae, Klebsormidiophyceae, Mamiellophyceae, Porphyridiophyceae, Synurophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Xanthophyceae), six are exclusively marine (Coccolithophyceae, Bangiophyceae, Dictyochophyceae, Prasinophyceae, Phaeophyceae and Stylonematophyceae), while the remaining 13 classes occur in both environments (Tab. 3).

Table 3 Species richness of algae and cyanobacteria classes recorded in 2010 and 2015, distributed by environment. (*) Updates of the data published in 2010; (-) - Not included in 2010; (**) - Including Conjugatophyceae taxa; (1) - previously included in Rhodophyceae; (2) - including 2010 Prymnesiophyceae taxa. 

Algae and cyanobacteria distribution by Brazilian geopolitical regions is shown in Figure 2. When compared to the 2010 data, the new data show an increase in the number of taxa in all regions with Southeast Brazil as the most diverse, followed by South, Northeast, Centralwest and Northern. When we analyse the state records, only Amapá, Acre, Roraima, Rondônia and Tocantins did not show expressive increase in species numbers from 2010 to 2015 (Tab. 4). The states with the higher increase in number of taxon records were Mato Grosso and Piauí, where the records were respectively 81% and 79% higher, followed by Sergipe, with 54%, Goiás 50% and Distrito Federal with 40%. Despite the increases, species distribution between the states and the geopolitical regions continued to be heterogeneous (Fig. 3).

Table 4 Species richness of algae and cyanobacteria by Brazilian geopolitical region in 2010 and 2015. 

Figure 2 Number of epicontinental algae and cyanobacteria taxa distributed by Brazilian geopolitical region in 2010 and 2015. 

Figure 3 Number of algae and cyanobacteria species distributed by state and Brazilian geopolitical region. 

Taking into account only the macroalgae and marine cyanobacteria (Fig. 4), number of species per class continued to be higher in the southeast and northeast regions. Excepting Cyanophycae and macroscopic Prasinophyceae, 762 species of red, brown and green algae were recorded in 2015, amounting to 12.6% more than found in 2010. The states where the marine macroalgae have shown higher number of species were the same found by Bicudo & Menezes (2010), namely Espírito Santo, Rio Janeiro, Bahia, São Paulo, Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Norte, and the ones where the species number increased more markedly were Rio Grande do Norte (91), Bahia (87), Espírito Santo (79), Sergipe (75), São Paulo (71) and Pernambuco (63) (Tab. 5).

Table 5 Species number of marine macroalgae and cyanobacteria by Brazilian geopolitical region and state in 2015. 

Figure 4 Seaweeds and marine cyanobacteria species richness distributed by Brazilian geopolitical region and taxonomic class. 

Regarding marine cyanobacteria, 2015 saw 73 species while in 2010 there were only 17 recorded for Brazil, and the state with higher number of species was São Paulo (63), followed by Rio de Janeiro (26), Bahia (23) and Rio Grande do Sul (16). Other states such as Pará, Maranhão, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Espírito Santo, Paraná and Santa Catarina have.

There were no changes in the number of species or the distribution of Verdigellas and Palmophyllum (Prasinophyceae) between 2010 and 2015, with the species distribution being restricted to deep environments off the coast of Bahia, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro (Tab. 5).

The marine microalgae (Tab. 3) had an increase of 251 species (1,175 in 2015 vs. 924 in 2010). The states with the largest growth in the number of records were Paraná (37%), Pernambuco (32%), Rio de Janeiro (29%), Pará (27%), Rio Grande do Sul (25%), Espírito Santo (21%) and Bahia (21%). The remaining states had inexpressive alterations on the number of taxa, growing up to 16%, e.g. Bahia, Alagoas, Sergipe, Piauí and Amazonas had records equal or lower than five taxa. South and Northeast regions continued to be the most diverse, while, at state level, São Paulo (549 species), Rio Grande do Sul (529 species), Rio de Janeiro (491 species), Paraná (364 species), Pernambuco (348 species) and Bahia (303) are the leading states. The Bacillariophyceae and Dinophyceae continued to be the microalgae classes with the highest number of taxa (Tab. 6).

Table 6 Species number of epicontinental algae and cyanobacteria by Brazilian geopolitical region and state in 2015. 

Epicontinental algae (Tab. 3) have reached 2,808 species records in 2015, an additional 918 species to the 2010 figure of 1,890. Central-west, South, and Southeast regions have had the highest species number increases since 2010, followed by Northeast and North. The states of Bahia (85%), Minas Gerais (42%), Goiás (38.3%), Amazonas (28.2%), Distrito Federal (27%), Mato Grosso (25%) and Paraná (24%) had the highest species number increases. The most diverse states in terms of species numbers were Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Goiás, Distrito Federal and Bahia. The most diverse group continues to be the Bacillariophyceae followed by Conjugatophyceae (formerly included in the Charophyceae), Euglenophyceae and Chlorophyceae (Tab. 6).

Cyanobacteria species number added up to 389 in 2015 from a total of 294 in 2010, and the regions with highest increase in records were the Southeast and South (83% each), and the Central-western (53.5%). At state level, São Paulo (48.2%), Rio de Janeiro (42%), Rio Grande do Sul (42%), Amazonas (37.2%) and Distrito Federal (31.4%) have shown the largest increase in specie records (Tab. 3, Tab. 6). São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul feature as the most diverse states in terms of number of taxa (Tab. 6).

Amongst the 1,018 genera currently recognized in 2015, 41 (4%) concentrate 1,852 (39%) of the species listed (Tab. 7). The four genera with largest number of taxa were Cosmarium Corda ex Ralfs (Conjugatophyceae) with 156 species, Pinnularia Ehrenb. (Bacillariophyceae) with 125, Trachelomonas Ehrenb. (Euglenophyceae) with 107 and Staurastrum Meyen ex Ralfs (Conjugatophyceae), with 93 species.

Table 7 Species number of the most species rich genera of algae and cyanobacteria recorded in Brazil in 2015. 

Class Genus Species number
Conjugatophyceae Cosmarium 156
Bacillariophyceae Pinnularia 125
Euglenophyceae Trachelomonas 107
Conjugatophyceae Staurastrum 93
Bacillariophyceae Eunotia 72
Euglenophyceae Phacus 69
Dinophyceae Protoperidinium 66
Chlorophyceae Oedogonium 65
Bacillariophyceae Navicula 63
Conjugatophyceae Closterium 60
Dinophyceae Tripos 56
Bacillariophyceae Chaetoceros 50
Euglenophyceae Strombomonas 48
Conjugatophyceae Spirogyra 47
Conjugatophyceae Euastrum 47
Bacillariophyceae Nitzschia 46
Bacillariophyceae Surirella 41
Euglenophyceae Euglena 39
Bacillariophyceae Amphora 36
Dinophyceae Dinophysis 35
Synurophyceae Mallomonas 33
Cyanophyceae Phormidium 32
Conjugatophyceae Micrasterias 31
Conjugatophyceae Staurodesmus 29
Bacillariophyceae Coscinodiscus 28
Euglenophyceae Lepocinclis 28
Euglenophyceae Entosiphon 28
Chlorophyceae Chlamydomonas 27
Charophyceae Nitella 27
Bacillariophyceae Diploneis 25
Chlorophyceae Scenedesmus 25
Ulvophyceae Cladophora 24
Conjugatophyceae Pleurotaenium 23
Charophyceae Chara 23
Ulvophyceae Caulerpa 22
Cyanophyceae Scytonema 22
Dinophyceae Oxytoxum 22
Bacillariophyceae Gyrosigma 21
Bacillariophyceae Cocconeis 21
Dinophyceae Gymnodinium 21
Florideophyceae Ceramium 19
Total 1852

Regarding the occurrence of algae and cyanobacteria by hydrographic region (Fig. 5), the most representative were the Southeast Atlantic and Paraná, followed by the South Atlantic and the Amazonian Hidrographic Regions. The lowest number of records was found in the Northeast Occidental Atlantic and Parnaíba regions, which are also less well known territories in terms of their algal biodiversity.

Figure 5 Species richness of epicontinental algae and cyanobacteria by Brazilian hydrographic region 


The number of records (1,250) added to the latest version of the Algae and Cyanobacteria (Bicudo & Menezes 2010) represents another important advancement for neotropical phycology, however we believe that there is still much research to be carried out. The present total of 4,747 species recorded for different environments and Brazilian states is becoming close to previous estimates by Bicudo et al. (1998) and Menezes & Bicudo (2009), of respectively 5,000 and 5,614 species. These estimates are still fairly distant from the real algal diversity to be found in the country, when the extense geographic gaps that have not been studied are taken into account. Some taxonomic groups have been subestimated as it is obviated below.

Using the cyanobacteria as an example, taking worldwide figures of 5,000 known species and 3,000 species still to be described estimated by Guiry (2012), the 462 cyanobacteria species currently recorded for Brazil represent less than 10% of the known species, or slightly more than 5% of the total estimated. However Rocha (2006) estimated that there would be around 1,200 species in this group, and the figure recorded so far for Brazil is around 38% of this estimate.

Of the new species of cyanobacteria and microalgae included in the Brazilian List between 2010 and 2015, seven belong to genus Brasilonema Fiore et al. (Sant'Anna et al. 2011), one of each Scytonema C.Agardh ex Bornet & Flahault (Hentschke & Komarék 2014), Lemmermaniella Geitler (Gama Jr. et al. 2014), Chroococcus Nägeli (Gama Jr et al. 2014) and Eunotia Ehrenb. (Furhmann et al. 2013) for the Paraná hydrographic region, São Paulo state. A species of Symploca Kütz. ex Gomont was described for coastal Bahia (Caires et al. 2013).

One species of Urosolenia Round & R.M.Crawford (Tremarin et al. 2013a) and two Encyonema Kütz. (da Silva et al. 2015) were described for For the Paraná hydrographic region while a species of Conjugatophyceae, Staurastrum Meyen ex Ralfs (Santos et al. 2013) and a Cyanophyceae belonging to the genus Pannus Hickel (Malone et al. 2014) were described for the Paraguay hydrographic region (pantanal of Nhecolândia, Mato Grosso do Sul state). For the Amazon hydrographic region the monotypic new genera Eunotioforma Kociolek & Burliga and Bicudoa C.E.Wetzel et al. (Wetzel et al. 2012a; Burliga et al. 2013), as well as a species of Tursiocola R.W.Holmes et al. (Wetzel et al. 2012b) and another of Aulacoseira Thwaites (Tremarin et al. 2013b) were described. A new species of Oocystis A.Braun (Ramos et al. 2015) was described from the West Atlantic hydrographic region. Three new species of Diatomaceae (one Eunotia and two Aulacoseira) described have wider distribution and span through two or more hydrographic regions (Metzeltin & Tremarin 2011; Tremarin et al. 2012; Tremarin et al. 2014).

Regarding marine macroalgae, genus Laurenciella Cassano et al. (Florideophyceae) was proposed with basis on molecular evidence (Cassano et al. 2012), while four species of Hypnea J.V.Lamour. (Nauer et al. 2014a, b; Jesus et al. 2015), one of Osmundea Stackh. (Rocha-Jorge et al. 2013) and two Ulvophyceae, Codium pernambucensis Oliveira & S.M.B.Pereira (Carvalho et al. 2012) and Gayralia brasiliensis Pellizari et al. (Pellizzari et al. 2013) were described during the last five years.

The Bacillariophyceae and the Florideophyceae are the most speciose groups of respectively microalgae and macroalgae, both showing an increase in species number during the last period, while the records of other groups, considered underestimated already in 2010 (Bicudo & Menezes 2010), such as Coccolithophyceae, Prasinophyceae and Xanthophyceae, remain unaltered.

The number (33) of new species described for Brazil during the 2010-2015 period means that around six species were described per year. When analysing the authors against the new species described, we found that the number of new species dividided by the number of Brazilian authors (48), gives a proportion close to one (0.7) over the last five years. However, the breakdown of species described per authors is heterogeneous (Tab. 1), showing that the productivity is concentrated by a handful of taxonomists with enough experience and/or access to the collections needed to perform this task. This highlights the insufficiency of specialized, well trained researchers able to describe the overwhelming diversity of organisms found in Brazil. On the other hand, according to Sangster & Luksenburg (2015), a new trend of increased time and effort employed by taxonomists to produce good quality, complete new descriptions implies in less frequent subsequent revisions of taxonomic concepts. Studies suggest that, while new taxa continue to be described at a steady rate, the number of taxonomists has actually increased (Pimm et al. 2010; Jope et al. 2011; Tancoigne & Dubois 2013) therefore the number of species described per taxonomist has decreased. Such studies conclude that the number of taxonomy researchers is not declining, proposing that the decline seen is in the productivity per taxonomist (Sangster & Luksenburg 2015).

Summarizing, our results show an increase in the knowledge regarding algal biodiversity in Brazil during the last five years that has started to close the gap between better studied and less known regions. Even with Southeast and South regions maintaining their position as the most diverse areas through our better understanding of their algal flora (Bicudo & Menezes 2010), the present records for some states within the Northeast, such as Piauí and Sergipe, and the Central-western states of Mato Grosso, Goiás and Distrito Federal have shown that they also hold considerable algal biodiversity. However relatively modest, the discovery of new genera and species has increased and spread through the less known regions such as the Amazon, Northeast and Central-western.

As seen for other biodiverse countries, increased rate of description of new taxa started to address the geographic bias caused by the polarization of taxonomic research in and around the largest economic centres worldwide (Tancoigne et al. 2011; Grieneisen et al. 2014 ). On the other hand, in the case of algae and cyanobacteria, Brazil continues to face obstacles for the advancement in the knowledge of phycological diversity, be it because of global issues, such as the shortage of taxonomists specializing in this area (Guiry 2012; De Clerck et al. 2013) or, in the regional scale, such as the lack of laboratory facilities and nonavailability of biological collections where the diversity is higher (Grieneisen et al. 2014). Strategic policies have already been launched by the Brazilian government in order to accelerate the study of the country's biodiversity, however, these need to be strengthened and widened to ensure its mapping is more homogeneous and complete.


We would like to thank the coordinators of the Brazilian Floristic List for their support of the updating of the online list. To Daniela Zappi and the two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions to the manuscript.


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Received: June 07, 2015; Accepted: August 13, 2015

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