Dr. Erasmo Macaya, phycologist, together with a group of foreign researchers, received the Luigi Provasoli Award for their work published in the Journal of Phycology.
Andrea Navarro, IDEAL Center. In October 2019, the prestigious scientific journal, Journal of Phycology, published an article that focuses on analyzing the biogeographic importance of buoyancy in macroalgae. The work takes as a case study the genus Durvillaea, a brown alga that is distributed mainly in Australia, New Zealand, South America and various subantarctic islands.
The research, which includes descriptions of two new species, suggests that long-distance dispersal plays a key role in evolution, facilitating the divergence, expansion and movement of species in response to environmental changes.
The scientific article concludes that, although buoyancy is a trait that can be useful for dispersion (creating evolutionary pressure for its gain,) there is also an evolutionary pressure for its loss, because it restricts species to narrow environmental ranges. In the case of floating species such as Durvillaea, they are restricted exclusively to the intertidal zone, a place where high fluctuations in environmental factors occur (temperature, desiccation, etc.) and where algae are more vulnerable when exposed at low tide.
“The study, in addition to helping to understand the evolution of this important group of algae, resolves the taxonomy of the genus, describing two new species. One of them is Durvillaea incurvata, “collofe” or “cochayuyo,” an endemic alga of our country that was renamed based on molecular data”, said Dr. Erasmo Macaya, scientist at the IDEAL Center of the Austral University of Chile (UACh,) director of the Algalab laboratory of the University of Concepción (UdeC) and co-author of the research.
In the 75th version of the annual conference of The Phycological Society of America, the academic work in which the Chilean participated, won the Luigi Provasoli award as the most outstanding article of the year in the Journal of Phycology. This award was established in 1984 to honor the journal’s first editor as well as the society’s 16th president, a researcher who made multiple important contributions to algae research.
“(I am) very honored to receive this important recognition and also to have collaborated on this study with an excellent group of colleagues, led by Dr. Crid Fraser, an academic at the University of Otago in New Zealand”, commented Dr. Macaya.