The microflora of hypogean environments has been studied increasingly worldwide. However, some sites have hardly been examined or not studied at all; this is the case for the Giant Cave, a Karst show cave located near Trieste, Italy. In the present study we began characterizing the Giant Cave Lampenflora by using a polyphasic approach, focusing, in particular, on three Leptolyngbya-like strains named GR2, GR4, and GR13. Light and electron microscopic observations were carried out and the water-soluble pigment composition was analysed. Phylogenetic reconstruction, based on the 16S rRNA gene and the 16S-23S ITS region, was performed to better understand the taxonomic position of these strains, complemented by 16S-23S ITS secondary structure analysis. Ecological and geographical data for the investigated strains and for the other cyanobacterial strains grouping with them in the phylogenetic reconstructions were also considered. Based on the results, strain GR2 was ascribed to the species Heteroleibleinia purpurascens (Hansgirg) Anagnostidis & Komárek; strains GR4 and GR13 were attributed to a new genus of the family Leptolyngbyaceae, Timaviella Sciuto & Moro, gen. nov., and represented two distinct species: Timaviella circinata Sciuto & Moro and Timaviella karstica Sciuto & Moro.
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Vol. 38 • No. 4