The rapid growth of marine macroalgal cultivation amplifies the potential impacts of seaweed diseases. Here, we combine microscopy and molecular analysis to describe two novel European species, Olpidiopsis palmariae and O. muelleri spp. nov., that infect the commercially important red algae Palmaria and Porphyra, respectively. A Scottish variety of Olpidiopsis porphyrae, a devastating pathogen of Pyropia previously thought to be restricted to Japanese seaweed farms, is also described as O. porphyrae var. scotiae. In the light of their destructiveness in Asian farms, together with the global expansion of algal cultivation and pertaining seed trade, Olpidiopsis pathogens should be treated as a serious threat to the sustainability of red algal aquaculture. Our findings call for the documentation of seaweed pathogens and the creation of an international biosecurity framework to limit their spread.
- Algal disease
- Algal parasite