Charales

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Stoneworts
CharaFragilis.jpg
Chara globularis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Charophyta
Class: Charophyceae
Order: Charales
Family: Characeae
Genera

Chara
Lamprothamnium
Lycnothamnus
Nitella
Nitellopsis
Tolypella

Charales is an order of pondweeds, algae in the division Charophyta. Linnaeus established the genus Chara in 1753. Most are found in fresh water, but some charophytes have been found in ephemeral saline lakes in Australia, healthy and photosynthesizing at twice the salinity of seawater.[1]

Description[edit]

The Charales have large, macroscopic thalli growing up to 120 cm long, they are branched, multicellular, and use chlorophyll to photosynthesize. They grow in fresh water. They may be called stoneworts,[2] because the plants can become encrusted in lime (calcium carbonate) after some time. The "stem" is actually a central stalk consisting of giant, multinucleated cells. They are unique in having a whorl of small branchlets at each node in the stipe, this gives them a superficial resemblance to the genus Equisetum. In these whorls it is possible to see the phenomenon of cytoplasmic streaming. In fact the streaming in Chara is the fastest recorded of any cell. Cytoplasmic streaming is caused by the microfilaments found inside the cell, as proven by the use of cytochalasin B to stop streaming.

There are about 400 species worldwide, with 33 in Britain and Ireland according to Groves and Bullock-Webster),[3][4] however Stewart and Church (1992) reduce this to 21.[5]

Characeae are the principal plant life of some of the volcanic crater lakes of Nicaragua, and can be found in excess of 20 meters depth in some circumstances. Introduced tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) consumed all the Characeae in Lake Apoyo.[6]

Species[edit]

Submerse meadow of Chara vulgaris
Limy crust on Chara spec. in a spring pond

British Isles[edit]

Ref: Stewart & Church (1992).[5]

  • Chara baltica Bruz.
  • Chara canescens Desv. & Lois.
  • Chara connivens Salzm. ex A.Braun
  • Chara curta Nolta wx Kütz. (=C.aspera var. curta)
  • Chara denudata (A.Braun) R.D.Wood
  • Chara fragifera Durieu
  • Chara intermedia Braun (=C. papillosa Kütz. and C. contraria x hispida)
  • Chara mucosa J.Groves & Bullock-Webster
  • Chara rudis (A.Braun) Leonh.
  • Chara tomentosa L.
  • Lamprothamnium papulosum (Wallr.) J.Groves
  • Nitella capillaris (Krocker) J.Groves & Bullock-Webster
  • Nitella gracilis (Smith) Agardh
  • Nitella hyalina (DC.)Agardh
  • Nitella mucronata (A.Braun)Miquel
  • Nitella spanioclema J.Groves & Bullock-Webster (Nitella flexilis var. spanioclema (J.Groves & Bullock-Webster)
  • Nitella tenuissima (Desv.) Kütz.
  • Nitellopsis obtusa (Desv.) J.Groves
  • Tolypella[verification needed] intricata (Trent. ex Roth) Leonh.
  • Tolypella nidifica (O.F.Müll.) Leonh. (= Tolypella nidifica var. nidifica)
  • Tolypella prolifera (Ziz. ex A.Braun) Leonh.

Other regions[edit]

Distribution[edit]

Ireland[edit]

  • Co. Antrim[9]
    • C.aspera Deth. ex Willd. var. aspera
    • C. globularis Thuill. var. globularis
    • C. vulgaris var. papillata Wallr. ex A. Braun
    • C. globularis var. virgata (Kützing) R.D.Wood
    • C. vulgaris L. var. vulgaris
    • C. vulgaris L. var. contraria (A.Braun ex Kützing) J.A. Moore
    • C. vulgaris var. longibracteata (Kützing) J. Groves & Bullock-Webster
    • C. vulgaris var. papillata Wallr. ex A. Braun
    • Nitella flexilis (L.) var. flexilis
    • Nitella translucens (Pers.) C.A. Ag.
    • Tolypella nidifica (O. Mill.) Leonh. var. glomerata (Desv.) R.D.Wood
  • Co. Down[9]
    • C. aspera Deth. ex Willd. var. aspera
    • C. aspera var. curta (Nolte ex Kützing) Braun ex Leonh.
    • C. globularis Thuill. var. globularis
    • C. vulgaris var. papillata Wallr. ex A. Braun
    • C. globularis var. virgata (Kützing) R.D.Wood
    • C. globularis var. annulata (Lilleblad) J.A.Moore
    • C. hispida L.
    • C. hispida var. hispida
    • C. hispida var. major (Hartm.) R.D. Wood
    • C. hispida var. rudis A. Braun
    • C. pedunculata Kützing
    • C. vulgaris L. var. vulgaris
    • C. vulgaris L. var. contraria (A.Braun ex Kützing) J.A. Moore
    • C. vulgaris var. longibracteata (Kützing) J. Groves & Bullock-Webster
    • C. vulgaris var. papillata Wallr. ex A. Braun
    • Nitella flexilis (L.) var. flexilis
    • Nitella translucens (Pers) C.A. Ag.
    • Tolypella nidifica (O. Mill.) Leonh. var. glomerata (Desv.) R.D.Wood
  • Co. Londonderry[9]
    • C.aspera Deth. ex Willd. var. aspera
    • C. vulgaris var. papillata Wallr. ex A. Braun
    • C. globularis Thuill. var. globularis
    • C. globularis var. virgata (Kützing) R.D.Wood
    • C. hispida L.
    • C. hispida var. hispida
    • C. vulgaris L. var. vulgaris
    • C. vulgaris L. var. contraria (A.Braun ex Kützing) J.A. Moore
    • C. vulgaris var. papillata Wallr. ex A. Braun
    • Nitella flexilis (L.) var. flexilis
    • Nitella translucens (Pers) C.A. Ag.
    • Tolypella nidifica (O. Mill.) Leonh. var. glomerata (Desv.) R.D.Wood
  • Co. Mayo.Recent records have been published from Clare Island.[10]
    • Chara virgata Kützing
    • Nitella flexilis (Linnaeus) C.Agardh
    • Nitella translucens (Persoon) C.Agardh

Ecology[edit]

The Characeae are aquatic though some can survive in brackish or maritime habitats. They are to be found usually in still, clear, non-flowing, water attached by rhizoids. They can be pioneer colonizers or ephemerals.[11] They are usually found in low to medium nutrient-rich water and tend to disappear due to eutrophication.

Life history[edit]

The antheridia and oogonia are protected by a layer of sterile cells when mature; the oogonium is oblong in shape and consists of a single egg, while the spherical antheridium is packed with threadlike cells that produce spermatia. As a result, the Charales have the most complex structure of all green algae, if indeed they should be so labelled.

The possible ancestors of the land plants are also known as brittleworts or skunkweed. These curious labels arise from the fragility of their lime-encrusted stems, and from the foul odor these produce when stepped on.

Many botanists propose that the stoneworts and their relatives be placed in a phylum, division, sub-kingdom, or even kingdom by themselves, often named Charophyta. Their classification by taxonomists is currently undergoing much cladistic scrutiny. Further DNA and RNA analysis may prove the charophytes to be a crucial evolutionary link in the phylogenetic tree of life, the critical developmental step from the algae toward the non-vascular and then vascular land plants.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Burne, R.V., Bauld, J. and de Decker, P. 1980. Saline lake charophytes and their geological significance. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 50, 281-293. As quoted by: Purbeck Formation - Jurassic-Cretaceous. Lithology, fauna, facies and palaeoenvironments. Geology of the Dorset Coast. Ian West, Romsey, Hampshire and School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton University, Southampton. 2009. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/purbfac.htm accessed 5 August 2013
  2. ^ Kapraun DF (April 2007). "Nuclear DNA content estimates in green algal lineages: chlorophyta and streptophyta". Ann. Bot. 99 (4): 677–701. doi:10.1093/aob/mcl294. PMC 2802934. PMID 17272304. 
  3. ^ Groves, J. and Bullock-Webster, G.R. 1920. The British Charophyta. Vol.1, Nitelleae. London, The Ray Society
  4. ^ Groves, J. and Bullock-Webster, G.R. 1924. The British Charophyta. Vol.2, Characeae.. London, The Ray Society
  5. ^ a b Stewart, N.F. and Church, J.M. 1992. Red Data Books of Britain and Ireland. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. ISBN 1-873701-24-1
  6. ^ McCrary JK, Murphy BR, Stauffer, Jr. JR, Hendrix SS (2007): Tilapia (Teleostei: Cichlidae) status in Nicaraguan natural waters; Env. Biol. Fishes 78:107-114 [1]
  7. ^ ITIS Standard Report Page: Chaetosphaeridiaceae
  8. ^ Algaebase :: Species Detail
  9. ^ a b c Morton, O. 1992 in Hackney, P. (Ed.) Stewart & Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland. Institute of Irish Studies and The Queen's University of Belfast ISBN 0-85389-446-9 (HB)
  10. ^ Guiry, M.D., John, D.M., Rindi, F. and McCarthy, T.K 2007. New Survey of Clare Island, Volume 6: The Freshwater and Terrestrial Algae. Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 978-1-904890-31-7
  11. ^ John, D.M., Whitton, B.A. and Brook, A.J. 2002. The Freshwater Algal Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, London. ISBN 0-521-77051-3

Further reading[edit]

  • Bryant, J. The stoneworts (Chlorophyta, Charales). In Guiry, M.D., John, D.M., Rindi, F. and McCarthy, T.K. 2007. New Survey of Clare Island. Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 978-1-904890-31-7.
  • Lloyd, James. 2007. "Cytoskeletal Structures Responsible for Cytoplasmic Streaming in Chara." St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Accordance with Dr. Donald Ott of The University of Akron. (Science Inquiry)
  • Schaible, R. and Schubert, H. 2008. The occurrence of sexual Chara canesces populations (Charophyceae) is not related to ecophysiological potentials with respect to salinity and irradiance. Eur. J. Phycol. 43: 309 - 316.
  • Desai, Udaysingh and Karande C.T. 2008. "Biodiversity of Charophytes from Kolhapur District, Maharashtra". Shivaji University, Kolhapur.

Further links[edit]