Phenotypic plasticity in the green algae Desmodesmus and Scenedesmus with special reference to the introduction of defensive morphology

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Abstract

Organisms belonging to the green algal genera Desmodesmus and Scenedesmus are characterized by a high degree of flexibility allowing them to be true cosmopolitans and to withstand harsh conditions. The environmental conditions determine which phenotypes are being produced and one of the most dangerous situations for the algae is when the organisms are confronted with strong grazing pressure from numerous zooplankton organisms. An overview is given of several aspect of an induced defense in many non-spiny Scenedesmus and some spiny Desmodesmus that may form typical protective eight-celled colonies to avoid mortality from numerous grazers. The morphological response does seem to be linked with a herbivorous zooplankton chemical cue, rather than to a more general animal excretory product. The grazing activity of small sized grazers is reduced, but not of large Daphnia. However, arguments are given why grazing protection of colonial Scenedesmus is probably more efficient under natural than under carbon/light limited laboratory conditions. Finally, a life-history cycle of Desmodesmus and Scenedesmus is presented in which biological aspects such as the anti-grazer response and sexual reproduction are being included.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-101
JournalAnnales de Limnologie : international journal of limnology
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • unicell-colony transformation
  • daphnia-pulex
  • acutus chlorophyceae
  • spine formation
  • communis hegew
  • food quality
  • growth
  • obliquus
  • phytoplankton
  • zooplankton

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