The introduction of the Asian red algae Melanothamnus japonicus (Harvey) Díaz-Tapia & Maggs in Peru as a means to adopt management strategies to reduce invasive non-indigenous species.
Early detection of non-indigenous species is crucial to reduce, mitigate, and manage their impacts on the ecosystems into which they were introduced. However, assessment frameworks for identifying introduced species on the Pacific Coast of South America are scarce and even non-existent for certain countries. In order to identify species' boundaries and to determine the presence of non-native species, through morphological examinations and the analysis of the plastid ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase large subunit (rbcL-5P) gene, we investigated the phylogenetic relationships among species of the class Florideophyceae from the coast of Ancash, Peru. The rbcL-5P dataset revealed 10 Florideophyceae species distributed in the following four orders: Gigartinales, Ceramiales, Halymeniales, and Corallinales, among which the Asian species, Melanothamnus japonicus (Harvey) Díaz-Tapia & Maggs was identified. M. japonicus showed a pairwise divergence of 0% with sequences of M. japonicus from South Korea, the USA, and Italy, the latter two being countries where M. japonicus has been reported as introduced species. Our data indicate a recent introduction event of M. japonicus in Peru, and consequently, the extension of its distribution into South America. These findings could help to adopt management strategies for reducing the spread and impact of M. japonicus on the Pacific Coast of South America.