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Keywords:

  • Enteromorpha flexuosa;
  • extracellular polymeric substances;
  • glycoconjugates;
  • lectins;
  • settlement;
  • Ulva fasciata;
  • zoospores

Ecologically successful algae that colonize natural and artificial substrates in the marine environment have distinct strategies for opportunistic dispersal and settlement. The objective of this research was to visualize molecular architecture of zoospores from Enteromorpha (=Ulva) flexuosa (Wulfen) J. Agardh and Ulva fasciata Delile that coexist but alternate in dominance on an intertidal bench. Multiple fluorescent lectins were used to stabilize and probe for diverse zoospore glycoconjugates (GC) that could be involved in cell and substrate interactions. Results from epifluorescence microscopy showed distinct cellular and extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) domains of GC relative to settlement morphologies. Glycoconjugates were similar for both species with (1) α-d mannose and/or glucose moieties localized on flagella, the anterior domes and anterior regions, the plasma membranes, and EPS; (2) α-fucose localized on flagella and anterior regions; (3) N or α,ß-N acetylglucosamine localized on flagella, the anterior regions, and EPS; and (4) varied N-acetylgalactosamine and/or galactose moieties localized on each domain for both species excluding the plasma membranes. Some differences in lectin binding were observed for each species at the flagella, the anterior domes, and the plasma membranes. Glycoconjugate distributions shifted with morphological changes that followed initial adhesion. TEM of E. flexuosa zoospore stages following carbohydrate-stabilizing fixations and gold-conjugated lectin probes resolved GC with α-d mannose and/or glucose, and/or N-acetylglucosamine at the plasma membrane, ER and diverse vesicles of the anterior pole, EPS, and discontinuous regions or knobs associated with flagellar surfaces. The distinct distribution and diversity of zoospore GC may be central to recognition and attachment on diverse substrata by these algae.