• axenic culture;
  • bacterial effect;
  • Chlorophyta;
  • morphogenesis;
  • Ulva pertusa


Marine foliaceous green macroalgae such as Ulva lose their typical morphology when cultured aseptically in defined synthetic media. However, after reinfection by certain marine bacteria (isolated from unialgal cultures of Ulva pertusa Kjellman), the organisms regain their typical foliaceous or tubular morphology. To investigate the morphogenesis (MG) induced in U. pertusa by bacteria, we isolated and identified bacteria with MG activity on U. pertusa and studied the distribution of such bacteria in seawater and on various marine macroalgae. We isolated 1555 bacterial strains from 18 species of marine macroalgae (six Chlorophyta, five Phaeophyta, and seven Rhodophyta), from seawater and from sediment collected at the beach at Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture; Japan. Of these, 676 bacterial strains (43.5%) showed MG activity. They were classified into six bacterial groups, Flavobacterium, Vibrio, Pseudomonas, Deleya, Escherichia, and gram-positive cocci. These bacteria were ubiquitous among the samples and were not specific to U. pertusa. Several plant growth regulators had no MG activity. Filter-sterilized supernatants of culture media of MG-active bacteria strains did not induce MG. Cocultivation of Ulva with active bacterial strains is so far the only way to induce the MG effect, which suggests that for MG direct contact between Ulva and the bacterial strain is necessary.