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Keywords:

  • anatomy of interfaces;
  • chemical defense;
  • cross-inoculation;
  • Egregia menziesii;
  • cuticle peeling;
  • epiphytes;
  • Iridaea;
  • Prionitis;
  • short life-span;
  • Ulva

ABSTRACT

The phenomenon of basiphyte specificity in the settlement and growth of the red algal epiphytes Microcladia californica Farl. and M. coulteri Harv. was examined by studying the interface with their respective basiphytes and by cross-inoculation experiments. Microcladia californica attaches only to the surface of its single basiphyte Egregia menziesii (Aresch.) Turn. whereas M. coulteri penetrates the tissue of a wide range of basiphytes. The pattern of primary rhizoid development in both epiphytes determines the mode of attachment and may influence the range of basiphytes possible for each epiphyte. Cross-inoculation experiments show that Microcladia californica is not able to colonize the basiphytes of M. coulteri, Iridaea and Prionitis, or Ulva. The mechanisms by which these algae restrict the growth of epiphytes include short life-span, “cuticle peeling” and chemical defense. Microcladia coulteri, which naturally colonizes Iridaea and Prionitis, has evolved mechanisms to counteract the antifouling effects of those basiphytes. The question of why Egregia is the exclusive substratum for M. californica remains undetermined. However, Egregia may provide the appropriate ecological conditions and a surface topography conductive to M. californica spore settlement and growth.