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Concept: Brown algae


The ~1.6 Ga Tirohan Dolomite of the Lower Vindhyan in central India contains phosphatized stromatolitic microbialites. We report from there uniquely well-preserved fossils interpreted as probable crown-group rhodophytes (red algae). The filamentous form Rafatazmia chitrakootensis n. gen, n. sp. has uniserial rows of large cells and grows through diffusely distributed septation. Each cell has a centrally suspended, conspicuous rhomboidal disk interpreted as a pyrenoid. The septa between the cells have central structures that may represent pit connections and pit plugs. Another filamentous form, Denaricion mendax n. gen., n. sp., has coin-like cells reminiscent of those in large sulfur-oxidizing bacteria but much more recalcitrant than the liquid-vacuole-filled cells of the latter. There are also resemblances with oscillatoriacean cyanobacteria, although cell volumes in the latter are much smaller. The wider affinities of Denaricion are uncertain. Ramathallus lobatus n. gen., n. sp. is a lobate sessile alga with pseudoparenchymatous thallus, “cell fountains,” and apical growth, suggesting florideophycean affinity. If these inferences are correct, Rafatazmia and Ramathallus represent crown-group multicellular rhodophytes, antedating the oldest previously accepted red alga in the fossil record by about 400 million years.

Concepts: Algae, Cyanobacteria, Bacteria, Plastid, Plant, Cell wall, Brown algae, Red algae


Natural photonic crystals are responsible for strong reflectance at selective wavelengths in different natural systems. We demonstrate that intracellular opal-like photonic crystals formed from lipids within photosynthetic cells produce vivid structural color in the alga Cystoseira tamariscifolia. The reflectance of the opaline vesicles is dynamically responsive to environmental illumination. The structural color is present in low light-adapted samples, whereas higher light levels produce a slow disappearance of the structural color such that it eventually vanishes completely. Once returned to low-light conditions, the color re-emerges. Our results suggest that these complex intracellular natural photonic crystals are responsive to environmental conditions, changing their packing structure reversibly, and have the potential to manipulate light for roles beyond visual signaling.

Concepts: Algae, Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Light, System, Lighting, Brown algae, Photonic crystal


In this study, we prepared seven polysaccharides extracted from five algae including one brown alga Saccharina japonica, one red alga Porphyra haitanensis and three green algae Codium fragile, Enteromorpha linza and Bryopsis plumose. The chemical composition and capability of moisture-absorption and moisture-retention were investigated in comparison with those of hyaluronic acid (HA). The low molecular weight polysaccharides extracted from brown seaweed exhibited the highest moisture-absorption and moisture-retention abilities of all of the polysaccharides studied and performed better than HA. The relationships between chemical composition (including sulfated groups, monosaccharide, and molecular weight) and the functions of polysaccharides were also studied. We found the sulfated group was a main active site for moisture-absorption and moisture-retention abilities. These abilities were also related to molecular weight; with the exception of the low molecular weight polysaccharide extracted from red seaweed, lower molecular weight improved moisture-absorption and moisture-retention abilities.

Concepts: Algae, Plant, Water, Brown algae, Green algae, Seaweed, Red algae, Nori


An extracellular cellulase produced by marine bacterium Pseudoalteromonas sp. was studied for its activity and stability in six different ionic liquids (ILs) over a wide range of concentrations (1-20% v/v) and compared with aqueous medium as control. Enzyme showed its optimal activity at 45°C and at pH 5 in control. Although the activity varied with the type of IL and its concentration used, the activity measured at 5% (v/v) was maximum with [EMIM]Br followed by [EMIM]Ac, [BMIM]Cl, [CMIM][CHSO], [BMIM][OTF] and [BMPL][OTF] with 115%, 104.7%, 102.2%, 98.33%, 93.84% and 92.67%, respectively, and >80% activity at 15% (v/v) in all ILs. The enzyme stability at 5% (v/v) IL concentration for 36h was superior to commercial cellulase. The cellulase activity enhanced by 1.35- to 1.72-fold over control when 5% (v/v) IL based reaction medium with algal biomass was used and thus showed potentials for saccharification of biomass in a single step process.

Concepts: Algae, Photosynthesis, Concentration, Chemical equilibrium, PH, Ionic liquid, Brown algae, Ionic liquids


The red algae Asparagopsis taxiformis collected from the Straits of Messina (Italy) were screened for antifungal activity against Aspergillus species. EUCAST methodology was applied and extracts showed antifungal activity against A. fumigatus, A. terreus and A. flavus. The lowest minimum inhibitory concentrations observed were <0.15 mg ml(-1) and the highest were >5 mg ml(-1) for Aspergillus spp. tested. Agar diffusion assays confirmed antifungal activity of A. taxiformis extracts in Aspergillus species.

Concepts: Algae, Plant, Aspergillus, Brown algae, Sicily, Red algae, Algaculture, Coralline algae


With increasing coastal infrastructure and use of novel materials there is a need to investigate the colonisation of assemblages associated with new structures, how these differ to natural and other artificial habitats and their potential impact on regional biodiversity. The colonisation of Europe’s first artificial surf reef (ASR) was investigated at Boscombe on the south coast of England (2009-2014) and compared with assemblages on existing natural and artificial habitats. The ASR consists of geotextile bags filled with sand located 220m offshore on a sandy sea bed at a depth of 0-5m. Successional changes in epibiota were recorded annually on differently orientated surfaces and depths using SCUBA diving and photography. Mobile faunal assemblages were sampled using Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV). Distinct stages in colonisation were observed, commencing with bryozoans and green algae which were replaced by red algae, hydroids and ascidians, however there were significant differences in assemblage structure with depth and orientation. The reef is being utilised by migratory, spawning and juvenile life-history stages of fish and invertebrates. The number of non-native species was larger than on natural reefs and other artificial habitats and some occupied a significant proportion of the structure. The accumulation of 180 benthic and mobile taxa, recorded to date, appears to have arisen from a locally rich and mixed pool of native and non-native species. Provided no negative invasive impacts are detected on nearby protected reefs the creation of novel yet diverse habitats may be considered a beneficial outcome.

Concepts: Algae, Species, Plant, Coral reef, Scleractinia, Brown algae, Red algae, Scuba diving


Phaeoviruses are latent double-stranded DNA viruses that insert their genomes into those of their brown algal (Phaeophyceae) hosts. So far these viruses are known only from members of the Ectocarpales, which are small and short-lived macroalgae. Here we report molecular and morphological evidence for a new Phaeovirus cluster, referred to as sub-group C, infecting kelps (Laminariales) of the genera Laminaria and Saccharina, which are ecologically and commercially important seaweeds. Epifluorescence and TEM observations indicate that the Laminaria digitata Virus (LdigV), the type species of sub-group C, targets the host nucleus for its genome replication, followed by gradual degradation of the chloroplast and assembly of virions in the cytoplasm of both vegetative and reproductive cells. This study is the first to describe phaeoviruses in kelp. In the field, these viruses infected two thirds of their host populations; however, their biological impact remains unknown.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 25 July 2017; doi:10.1038/ismej.2017.130.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Organism, Virus, Genome, Brown algae, Kelp


Colour and shape polymorphisms are important features of many species and may allow individuals to exploit a wider array of habitats, including through behavioural differences among morphs. In addition, differences among individuals in behaviour and morphology may reflect different strategies, for example utilising different approaches to camouflage. Hippolyte obliquimanus is a small shrimp species inhabiting different shallow-water vegetated habitats. Populations comprise two main morphs: homogeneous shrimp of variable colour (H) and transparent individuals with coloured stripes (ST). These morphs follow different distribution patterns between their main algal habitats; the brown weed Sargassum furcatum and the pink-red weed Galaxaura marginata. In this study, we first investigated morph-specific colour change and habitat selection, as mechanisms underlying camouflage and spatial distribution patterns in nature. Then, we examined habitat fidelity, mobility, and morphological traits, further indicating patterns of habitat use.

Concepts: Habitat, Species, Plant, Habitats, Behavior, Habitat conservation, Shrimp, Brown algae


Fucoidans are a class of sulfated fucose-rich polysaccharides found in brown marine algae and echinoderms. Fucoidans have an attractive array of bioactivities and potential applications including immune modulation, cancer inhibition, and pathogen inhibition. Research into fucoidan has continued to gain pace over the last few years and point towards potential therapeutic or adjunct roles. The source, extraction, characterization and detection of fucoidan is discussed.

Concepts: Immune system, Algae, Therapy, Source, Brown algae, Polysaccharides


Turf algae are a very important component of coral reefs, featuring high growth and turnover rates, whilst covering large areas of substrate. As food for many organisms, turf algae have an important role in the ecosystem. Farming damselfish can modify the species composition and productivity of such algal assemblages, while defending them against intruders. Like all organisms however, turf algae and damselfishes have the potential to be affected by future changes in seawater (SW) temperature and pCO2. In this study, algal assemblages, in the presence and absence of farming Pomacentrus wardi were exposed to two combinations of SW temperature and pCO2 levels projected for the austral spring of 2100 (the B1 “reduced” and the A1FI “business-as-usual” CO2 emission scenarios) at Heron Island (GBR, Australia). These assemblages were dominated by the presence of red algae and non-epiphytic cyanobacteria, i.e. cyanobacteria that grow attached to the substrate rather than on filamentous algae. The endpoint algal composition was mostly controlled by the presence/absence of farming damselfish, despite a large variability found between the algal assemblages of individual fish. Different scenarios appeared to be responsible for a mild, species specific change in community composition, observable in some brown and green algae, but only in the absence of farming fish. Farming fish appeared unaffected by the conditions to which they were exposed. Algal biomass reductions were found under “reduced” CO2 emission, but not “business-as-usual” scenarios. This suggests that action taken to limit CO2 emissions may, if the majority of algae behave similarly across all seasons, reduce the potential for phase shifts that lead to algal dominated communities. At the same time the availability of food resources to damselfish and other herbivores would be smaller under “reduced” emission scenarios.

Concepts: Algae, Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Plant, Coral reef, Brown algae