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Concept: Red 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


A new geographic record of the oomycete Olpidiopsis feldmanni infecting the tetrasporophytic stage of the red alga Asparagopsis sp. from the Adriatic Sea, confirmed through morphological identification, allowed us to expand previous observations of this organism. Ultrastructural investigations of environmental material showed a large central vacuole and a cell wall thicker than previously reported from other basal oomycete pathogens of algae. Phylogenetic analysis closely associates O. feldmanni to O. bostrychiae concurrent with structural observations. This constitutes the first genetic characterisation of an Olpidiopsis species that was initially described before 1960, adding to the genetic data of 3 other marine Olpidiopsis species established and genetically characterised in the last 2 decades. The paper discusses concurrences of the ultrastructural observations made here and in previous studies of the marine Olpidiopsis species with those made on the freshwater species.

Concepts: Algae, DNA, Gene, Cell, Bacteria, Organism, Plant, Red algae


Antiproliferative and antioxidant activities and mycosporine-like amino acid (MAA) profiles of methanol extracts from edible wild-harvested (Chondrus crispus, Mastocarpus stellatus, Palmaria palmata) and cultivated (C. crispus) marine red macroalgae were studied herein. Palythine, asterina-330, shinorine, palythinol, porphyra-334 and usujirene MAAs were identified in the macroalgal extracts by LC/MS/MS. Extract reducing activity rankings were (p < 0.001): wild P. palmata > cultivated C. crispus = wild M. stellatus > wild low-UV C. crispus > wild high-UV C. crispus; whereas oxygen radical absorbance capacities were (p < 0.001): wild M. stellatus > wild P. palmata > cultivated C. crispus > wild low-UV C. crispus > wild high-UV C. crispus. Extracts were antiproliferative against HeLa and U-937 cells (p < 0.001) from 0.125-4 mg/mL, 24 h. Wild P. palmata and cultivated C. crispus extracts increased (p < 0.001) HeLa caspase-3/7 activities and the proportion of cells arrested at Sub G₁ (apoptotic) compared to wild-harvested C. crispus and M. stellatus extracts. HeLa cells incubated with wild P. palmata and cultivated C. crispus extracts also exhibited morphological changes characteristic of apoptosis (shrinkage, rounding). Thus, extracts rich in low-polarity usujirene and polar palythine and asterina-330 MAAs were antiproliferative as inducers of apoptosis in HeLa cells.

Concepts: Protein, Acid, Nutrition, Red algae, Chondrus crispus, Palmaria palmata, Mastocarpus stellatus, Edible algae


Coralline algae are a significant component of the benthic ecosystem. Their ability to withstand physical stresses in high energy environments relies on their skeletal structure which is composed of high Mg-calcite. High Mg-calcite is, however, the most soluble form of calcium carbonate and therefore potentially vulnerable to the change in carbonate chemistry resulting from the absorption of anthropogenic CO2 by the ocean. We examine the geochemistry of the cold water coralline alga Lithothamnion glaciale grown under predicted future (year 2050) high pCO2 (589 μatm) using Electron microprobe and NanoSIMS analysis. In the natural and control material, higher Mg calcite forms clear concentric bands around the algal cells. As expected, summer growth has a higher Mg content compared to the winter growth. In contrast, under elevated CO2 no banding of Mg is recognisable and overall Mg concentrations are lower. This reduction in Mg in the carbonate undermines the accuracy of the Mg/Ca ratio as proxy for past temperatures in time intervals with significantly different carbonate chemistry. Fundamentally, the loss of Mg in the calcite may reduce elasticity thereby changing the structural properties, which may affect the ability of L. glaciale to efficiently function as a habitat former in the future ocean.

Concepts: Algae, Cyanobacteria, Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Coral reef, Calcium carbonate, Red algae, Coralline algae


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


In addition to nine known bromophenol derivatives, five new nitrogen-containing bromophenols were isolated from an ethyl acetate extract of the marine red alga Rhodomela confervoides. By using spectroscopic methods, the structures of the new compounds were identified as 3-(2,3-dibromo-4,5-dihydroxybenzyl)pyrrolidine-2,5-dione (1), methyl 4-(2,3-dibromo-4,5-dihydroxybenzylamino)-4-oxobutanoate (2), 4-(2,3-dibromo-4,5-dihydroxybenzylamino)-4-oxobutanoic acid (3), 3-bromo-5-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzamide (4), and 2-(3-bromo-5-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl)acetamide (5). All of these bromophenols showed potent scavenging activity against DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radicals, with IC(50) values ranging from 5.22 to 23.60μM. These compounds also displayed moderate activity against ABTS (2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonate) radicals, with Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity values (TEAC) ranging from 2.11 to 3.58mM. The results obtained in this study demonstrate that the bromophenols obtained from R. confervoides may have potential application in food and/or pharmaceutical fields as natural antioxidants.

Concepts: Nutrition, Antioxidant, Acetic acid, Vitamin C, Oxygen radical absorbance capacity, Red algae, Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity, Trolox


We undertook a study of Porphyra acanthophora var. brasiliensis to determine its responses under ambient conditions, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and PAR+UVBR (ultraviolet radiation-B) treatment, focusing on changes in ultrastructure, and cytochemistry. Accordingly, control ambient samples were collected in the field, and two different treatments were performed in the laboratory. Plants were exposed to PAR at 60 μmol photons m-2 s-1 and PAR + UVBR at 0.35 W m-2 for 3 h per day during 21 days of in vitro cultivation. Confocal laser scanning microscopy analysis of the vegetative cells showed single stellate chloroplast in ambient and PAR samples, but in PAR+UVBR-exposed plants, the chloroplast showed alterations in the number and form of arms. Under PAR+UVBR treatment, the thylakoids of the chloroplasts were disrupted, and an increase in the number of plastoglobuli was observed, in addition to mitochondria, which appeared with irregular, disrupted morphology compared to ambient and PAR samples. After UVBR exposure, the formation of carpospores was also observed. Plants under ambient conditions, as well as those treated with PAR and PAR+UVBR, all showed different concentrations of enzymatic response, including glutathione peroxidase and reductase activity. In summary, the present study demonstrates that P. acanthophora var. brasiliensis shows the activation of distinct mechanisms against natural radiation, PAR and PAR+UVBR.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plastid, Eukaryote, Chloroplast, Plant, Glutathione peroxidase, Photosynthetically active radiation, Red algae


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


The usual dietary sources of Vitamin B12 are animal-derived foods, although a few plant-based foods contain substantial amounts of Vitamin B12. To prevent Vitamin B12 deficiency in high-risk populations such as vegetarians, it is necessary to identify plant-derived foods that contain high levels of Vitamin B12. A survey of naturally occurring plant-derived food sources with high Vitamin B12 contents suggested that dried purple laver (nori) is the most suitable Vitamin B12 source presently available for vegetarians. Furthermore, dried purple laver also contains high levels of other nutrients that are lacking in vegetarian diets, such as iron and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Dried purple laver is a natural plant product and it is suitable for most people in various vegetarian groups.

Concepts: Nutrition, Essential fatty acid, Vitamin, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Vegetarianism, Red algae, Vitamin B12 deficiency


Porphyra umbilicalis (laver) belongs to an ancient group of red algae (Bangiophyceae), is harvested for human food, and thrives in the harsh conditions of the upper intertidal zone. Here we present the 87.7-Mbp haploid Porphyra genome (65.8% G + C content, 13,125 gene loci) and elucidate traits that inform our understanding of the biology of red algae as one of the few multicellular eukaryotic lineages. Novel features of the Porphyra genome shared by other red algae relate to the cytoskeleton, calcium signaling, the cell cycle, and stress-tolerance mechanisms including photoprotection. Cytoskeletal motor proteins in Porphyra are restricted to a small set of kinesins that appear to be the only universal cytoskeletal motors within the red algae. Dynein motors are absent, and most red algae, including Porphyra, lack myosin. This surprisingly minimal cytoskeleton offers a potential explanation for why red algal cells and multicellular structures are more limited in size than in most multicellular lineages. Additional discoveries further relating to the stress tolerance of bangiophytes include ancestral enzymes for sulfation of the hydrophilic galactan-rich cell wall, evidence for mannan synthesis that originated before the divergence of green and red algae, and a high capacity for nutrient uptake. Our analyses provide a comprehensive understanding of the red algae, which are both commercially important and have played a major role in the evolution of other algal groups through secondary endosymbioses.

Concepts: Algae, Protein, Cell, Eukaryote, Plant, Fungus, Actin, Red algae