‘Only introduced’ or ‘invasive’: spread of the alga Aulacoseira ambigua f. japonica from Asia to Africa and Europe


  • Tina Eleršek




algae, Aulacoseira ambigua f. japonica, introduced species, invasive species, scanning electron microscopy


Many non-native algal species are found in waters all over the world. Many terms are used to describe such organisms that have expanded their distribution. However, a unified model or concept remains to be defined, as how biological ‘invasions’ are seen depends on the perspective. Understanding invasive organisms is important for biodiversity, science policy and water management. During monitoring sampling at Slivniško Lake (Slovenia) in 2016, the curved diatom Aulacoseira ambigua f. japonica Tuji & D.M. Williams was identified. This species originates from Japan, from where it was described more than 100 years ago. The chronology of the published distributions of A. ambigua f. japonica defines its spread from Japan to Asia, then to western Russia and South Africa, and now to central Europe. This study provides further evidence that A. ambigua f. japonica has become established in Europe (Slovenia), as supported by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first qualitative and quantitative description of A. ambigua f. japonica in Europe. It has been suggested that the shape of these algal colonies is significant for the interpretation of ecological information, and indeed, also in the present case, spiral colonies were found in this eutrophic water body. Although curved cells and colonies can also be interpreted as (sub)populations or morphological variants, only detailed molecular studies can reveal if these also have taxonomic significance.


AlgaeBase - Guiry, M.D., Guiry, G.M., 2017. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway. http://www.algaebase.org; searched on 20 September 2017.

Anon, 2017. Inventaire national du Patrimoine naturel. Paris: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. https://inpn.mnhn.fr/accueil/index; searched on 20 September 2017.

Chalfina, N.A., 1966. De speciebus generis Melosira Ag. e flumine Amur notula, Novitates system- aticae plantarum non vascularium, pp. 43-46 (in Russian).

Heger, T., Saul, W.C., Trepl, L., 2013. What biological invasions ‘are’ is the matter of perspective. Journal of Natural Conservation 21(2), 93-96. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2012.11.002

Joh, G., 2010. Algal flora of Korea: 3 (1). Chrysophyta: Bacillariophyceae: Centrales. Freshwater diatoms I. Incheon: National Institute of Biological Resources. pp. [1-6], 1-161.

Kokociński, M., Akçaalan, R., Salmaso, N., Stoyneva-Gärtner, M.P., Sukenik, A., 2017. Expansion of alien and invasive cyanobacteria. In: Meriluoto J., Spoof L., Codd G.A. (Eds.): Handbook of Cyanobacterial Monitoring and Cyanotoxin Analysis, pp. 28-39. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119068761.ch4

Meister, F., 1913. Beiträge zur Bacillariaceenflora Japan. Archiv für Hydrobiologie und Planktonkunde, Stuttgart, 8, 305-312, page(s): 305, 311; pl. 4, fig. 1.

Potapova, M., English, J., 2010. Aulacoseira ambigua. In: Diatoms of the United States. http://west- erndiatoms.colorado.edu/taxa/species/aulacoseira_ambigua; searched on 25 September 2017.

Remec-Rekar, Š., 2011-2016. The assessment of the status of lakes in Slovenia. Ministry of the Envi- ronment and Spatial Planning, Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia (in Slovenian). Skabichevskii, A.P., 1960. Planktonnye diatomovye vodorosli presnykh vod SSSR (sistematika,

ekologiya, rasprostranenie). Moscow: Izd. Mosk. Gos. Univ. (in Russian).

Sukenik, A., Quesada, A., Salmaso, N., 2015. Global expansion of toxic and non-toxic cyanobacteria: effect on ecosystem functionating. Biodiversity and Conservation 24(4), 889-908. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-015-0905-9

Tanaka, M., 2002. Illustrations of the Japanese freshwater plankton. The University of Nagoya Press, Nagoya, 584 p. (in Japanese).

Taylor, B.W., Bothwell, M.L., 2014. The origin of invasive microorganisms matters for science, policy, and management: the case of Didymosphenia geminate. Bioscience 64(6), 531-538. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu060

Tuji, A., Williams, D.M., 2007. Type examination of Japanese diatoms described by Friedrich Meister (1913) from Lake Suwa. Bullets of National Museum of Natural Sciences, Ser. B, 33(2), 69-79.

van Vuuren, S.J., Taylor, J.C., 2016. A first record of Aulacoseira ambigua f. japonica (F. Meister) Tuji & D.M. Williams in South African freshwaters. African Journal of Aquatic Sciences 41(4), 369-375. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2989/16085914.2016.1222509

Tremarin, P.I., Ludwig, T.V., Torgan, L.C., 2013. Morphological variation and distribution of the freshwater diatom Aulacoseira ambigua (Grunow) Simonsen in Brazilian continental environments. IHERINGIA, Sér. Bot., Porto Alegre 68(1), 139-157.

Wakabayashi, T., Ichise, S., 1982. In: Negoro K. (Ed.) The plankton of Lake Biwa. The Shiga Prefectural Institute of Public Health and Environmental Science (in Japanese).






Original Research Paper

How to Cite

Eleršek, T. (2018). ‘Only introduced’ or ‘invasive’: spread of the alga Aulacoseira ambigua f. japonica from Asia to Africa and Europe. Acta Biologica Slovenica, 61(2), 39-46. https://doi.org/10.14720/abs.61.2.15893

Similar Articles

1-10 of 112

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.