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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Photoperiod and temperature as triggers in the seasonality ofDelesseria sanguinea

  • Joanna M. Kain (Jones)1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen41:BF02366198


The red algaDelesseria sanguinea is strongly seasonal, producing gametangia in early tetrasporangia in mid- and new blades in late winter. A lamp was installed in the shallow subtidal off the Isle of Man, illuminating about 40 plants ofDelesseria for one hour in the night or day. Single blades from separate plants were held in laboratory tanks at different temperatures and in short days, long days and with a night-break. In the sea, the night-break prevented fertility in tetrasporophytes but some gametophytes became fertile. New blades were stimulated, arising 6 weeks early. Their lengths indicated a saturation level of about 10 μmol m−2 s−1 for one hour in 24. Growth rate calculations suggested a delay in stimulation until the ambient sea temperature dropped to 13°C. Tetrasporangia were formed after the night-break ceased in December but not January. In day-addition of light there was slight, if any, stimulation of blade production. In the laboratory, gametogenesis occurred readily in short days but not in long days or with a night-break. There was little or no effect of temperature between 8 and 14°C. Tetraspores were rarely formed in the laboratory. The timing of gametogenesis suggested a critical daylength of about 14 h. New blades were clearly stimulated by lower temperatures in the laboratory, few forming at 14°C and many at 7–10°C. They appeared mainly in long days or with a night-break but formed in short days after gametangia production. It is concluded that both gamete and tetraspore production are under photoperiodic control but require different conditions, possibly gametogenesis needing fewer cycles. There is some evidence for antagonism between new blade and reproductive structure initiation. The critical daylength could involve a timing differential of a month over the species geographical range. On the other hand it is suggested that its southern limit could be determined by the winter isotherm of 13°C, warmer than which might not allow blade initiation.