8 Oct 2014

A much-weathered limpet with barnacles, knotted wrack and Polysiphonia lanosa.


And here's some Ascophyllum nodosum (knotted wrack) almost completely buried in the red epiphytic seaweed P. lanosa. The Ascophyllum has pushed a receptacle (the reproductive part of this sexually reproducing seaweed, which contains the conceptacles, the gamete producing organs) out through the mat of P. lanosa that completely coated its fronds:

It has been thought that the red P. lanosa was a pure epiphyte; that it just used the bigger Ascophyllum as a convenient place to grow. Research (from the American Journal of Botany) has demonstrated  a two-way exchange of photosynthesis-derived compounds between the larger Ascophyllum and the epiphiytic P. lanosa.

So the small red P. lanosa gets both a substrate to grow on and some nutritional benefit from Ascophyllum. It's a hemiparasite rather than a simple epiphyte. I wonder what benefit the larger Ascophyllum gains from having P. lanosa grow all over it.

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