A new genus of red algae was recently described by Jeong et al. It was named Wynneophycus in honor of Michael J. Wynne, Professor Emeritus and Curator Emeritus of Algae in the MICH Herbarium “for his valuable contributions to phycology, especially in the taxonomy of the family Delesseriaceae”. The suffix is the Greek word phykos for “seaweed”. Wynne remarked that he felt honored, especially because the new genus is in the family of red algae (with about 100 genera) that he has devoted much attention to. His efforts culminated in the publication of a book “The red algal familiies Delesseriaceae and Sarcomeniaceae” that was published in 2014 by Koeltz Scientific Books.

The sole species of the new genus, Wynneophycus geminatus, was in a different genus(Hypoglossum), but a combination of molecular analysis and morphological study revealed that it had nothing to do with that genus but deserved to be treated in a distinct (and new) genus, in fact, in a newly recognized tribe. The species name geminatus [Latin: paired, doubled] refers to the feature of the branches always being formed in pairs. The species occurs in Japan, China, Korea, Fiji, and Norfolk Island. The authors of the new genus are from Korea and the United States.

An earlier genus of red algae, Nwynea, was named by Searles in 1989 in Wynne’s honor. It was collected in deep water off the coast of Georgia (USA). According to Wynne, he had to warn his colleague Rick Searles at Duke University: “You cannot use Wynnea because that name was already used more than a century ago for a genus of fungi.” So Searles created an anagram of the name.

Over his career Wynne has described 14 new genera of Delesseriaceae and about 2-3 times that number of new species (from around the world). Another long-term research project has been his publication of checklists of the benthic marine algae of the tropical and subtropical Western Atlantic, starting with his original list in 1986, followed by three revisions (1998, 2005, 2011).

New genus of algae Wynneophycus. Image credit: Physcologia