• chemical composition;
  • maternal investment;
  • Phaeophyceae;
  • photosynthesis;
  • spores


Recently released spores of the kelps Macrocystis pyrifera (L.) C. Ag., Nereocystis luetkeana (Mert.) Post. and Rupr., Laminaria farlowii Setch., and Pterygophora californica Rupr. had different levels of net photosynthesis. Spore-specific photosynthesis–irradiance relationships were similar in many respects for M. pyrifera, N. luetkeana, and L. farlowii spores. All three species had low rates of net light-saturated photosynthesis. In contrast, spores of P. californica had higher photosynthetic potential and overall net photosynthesis than the other three species. On a cell carbon basis, however, photosynthetic rates in N. luetkeana spores were similar to those of P. californica spores and higher than those of M. pyrifera spores. Chlorophyll a content of spores varied 10-fold among species. The rank order of significant differences in chlorophyll a content was P. californica > L. farlowii > N. luetkeana > M. pyrifera. As a result, chlorophyll-specific measurements suggest M. pyrifera and N. luetkeana spores had much higher quantum efficiency and photosynthetic potential than either P. californica or L. farlowii spores. Maternal carbon and nitrogen investment significantly differed in spores of M. pyrifera, N. luetkeana, and P. californica with P. californica > M. pyrifera > N. luetkeana. Carbon content in spores of each of these three species increased by about 30% during 12 h of saturating irradiance. We suggest that the photosynthetic capabilities of and maternal investment in spores may be related to the spore as a unit of dispersal, to the reproductive ecology of the parental sporophytic stages, and to the growth and physiology of the germling gametophyte stages.