Chondracanthus exasperatus

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Chondracanthus exasperatus
Turkish towel
Turkish towel
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification edit
(unranked): Archaeplastida
Division: Rhodophyta
Class: Florideophyceae
Order: Gigartinales
Family: Gigartinaceae
Genus: Chondracanthus
C. exasperatus
Binomial name
Chondracanthus exasperatus

Chondracanthus exasperatus, commonly called Turkish towel, is a species of seaweed in the family Gigartinaceae. The specific epithet exasperatus (lit. 'roughened') is due to the bumpy texture of the blades (leaf-like structures). This texture also leads to the common name which evokes the luxurious feel of a towel from a Turkish bath. The rough, papillae-strewn blade surface even makes it difficult to measure the temperature using infrared thermometers.[7]


It is a perennial species.[8] Like many species in Gigartinaceae, the appearance of C. exasperatus can vary depending upon grown conditions.[2][3] It can be confused with Chondracanthus spinosus and Gigartina binghamiae, and it might take RFLP analysis to be sure of the species.[2][3] In addition, the names of the species in the genera Gigartina and Chondracanthus have been adjusted several times since 1961.[3] The leaf margins of the blades are smooth in cooler water and then become toothed and jagged as the temperature increases.[3] Increased water velocity will cause the blades to change shape.[9] The color of the thallus is greenish when exposed to ultraviolet light, but when it grows in deeper water it is darker red to purple.[3] Though it prefers lower water temperatures it can grow at 25 °C, but ends up dark red to black in color and having flat or cylindrical branch clusters.[10]

As originally described, C. exasperatus has a leafy stipe, with large 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m) long leathery-membranaceous blades that are lanceolate and simple.[11] The blade, and the majority of the thallus, is purplish-red.[8] Blade margins are thick, with rounded teeth, and appendiculate.[11] The thallus has simple, ramenta-like spiny projections (papillae) thickly strewn on both sides.[11] Coccoid pedicels are in marginal spines emerging from the thallus.[11]

C. exasperatus grows the fastest in the summer, up to 7.8%, and slowest near the winter solstice.[12] Thalli have a moisture content of about 81.4% and protein content of 1.59-1.97%.[13]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

C. exasperatus is found on the Pacific coast of North America from Baja California north to Sitka Sound.[8][2][14] The type locality is in Puget Sound opposite Fort Nisqually.[11] It grows on rocks in semi-exposed or semi-protected areas of the upper subtidal to lower intertidal zone,[8] down to a depth of 20m.[5]


Proliferation of invasive species such as Mazzaella japonica have a negative impact on the growth of C. exasperatus.[15] C. exasperatus is also susceptible to infection by the parasitic oomycete Pythium marinum.[16]

C. exasperatus decomposes quickly, faster than most other species, indicating its importance to detritivores and to nutrient cycling.[15] The high rate of decomposition also means that it is harder to find washed ashore as wrack and that its importance in the ecosystem may be underrepresented in research.[15]

However, amphipods such as Megalorchestia californiana and Traskorchestia spp. (including Traskorchestia traskiana[17]) will avoid C. exasperatus.[15] The isopod Ligia pallasii[17] and the green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis)[15] also seems to prefer to eat other seaweed species. A diet of C. exasperatus can slow or decrease shell length in juvenile white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) at extreme water temperatures, and possibly can be deadly at 18 °C or above raising concerns related to global warming.[13]

Use by humans[edit]

Commercial aquaculture in both tanks and on nets of C. exasperatus was attempted as early as the 1970s in Washington state.[18] It can also be grown in the air if sprayed with sea water, which conserves water but risks losing the crop if the pumps fail.[19] The gel within the blades has also been harvested to make cosmetics.[20] Intact blades are used in baths or for thalassotherapy, along with species such as feather boa (Egregia menziesii), finger kelp (Laminaria digitata), and Fucus.[21]



  1. ^ "Chondracanthus exasperatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2018. This taxon has not yet been assessed for the IUCN Red List, and also is not in the Catalogue of Life.
  2. ^ a b c d Hughey, Jeffery Ryan; Dudash, Ron; Kjeldsen, Chris K. (June 1996). "A Field and Molecular Systematic Study on species of Chondracanthus (Gigartinales, Rhodophyceae) from Pacific North America". Journal of Phycology. 32 (S3): 22–23. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3646.1996.00001.x. ISSN 1529-8817. OCLC 5153757978.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hughey, Jeffery Ryan (15 December 1995). A Systematic Study of Chondracanthus Kutzing (Rhodophyceae) with a Contribution to the Marine Flora of Tomales Bay, California. Rohnert Park, CA: Sonoma State University. hdl:10211.1/1688. OCLC 971001627.
  4. ^ "Chondracanthus exasperatus". IRMNG - Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera v.3.1. Australia: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b Abbott, Isabella A.; Hollenberg, George J. (1992). Marine Algae of California (PDF). Science. 101. Stanford University Press. p. 188. Bibcode:1945Sci...101..188S. doi:10.1126/science.101.2617.188. ISBN 9780804721523. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  6. ^ M.D. Guiry in Guiry, M.D. & Guiry, G.M. 2018. AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, NUI Galway. ; searched on 10 January 2018.
  7. ^ Van Alstyne, Kathryn L.; Olson, Theresa K. (3 April 2014). "Estimating variation in surface emissivities of intertidal macroalgae using an infrared thermometer and the effects on temperature measurements". Marine Biology. 161 (6): 1409–1418. doi:10.1007/s00227-014-2429-3. ISSN 0025-3162. OCLC 6923205246. PMC 4033787. PMID 24882885.
  8. ^ a b c d Lindeberg, Mandy; Lindstrom, Dr. Sandra. "Turkish Towel Chondracanthus exasperatus". Seaweeds of Alaska. Juneau, Alaska. Archived from the original on 10 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018. Authority: (Harvey et Bailey) Hughey North Pacific Distribution: Sitka Sound, Alaska, to Baja California, Mexico. Phylum: Rhodophyta Class: Florideophyceae Order: Gigartinales Family: Gigartinaceae Former Scientific Names: Gigartina exasperata Description: Thallus is a thick (somewhat rubbery), elongate, undivided purplish to pale red blade, reaching 30 cm (12 in) tall, with short, spiny papillae covering the blade surface. Blades arise as elongate papillae-like projections from a discoidal holdfast up to 1 cm (0.4 in) in diam. Habitat: This perennial grows on rock in the low intertidal and upper subtidal of semi-protected to semi-exposed habitats.
  9. ^ Martone, Patrick T.; Kost, Laurie; Boller, Michael (1 May 2012). "Drag reduction in wave-swept macroalgae: Alternative strategies and new predictions". American Journal of Botany. 99 (5): 806–815. doi:10.3732/ajb.1100541. ISSN 0002-9122. OCLC 7261520378. PMID 22523350. Archived from the original on 21 July 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  10. ^ Chen, Hsuan-Hsin (17 July 1987). Effect of thermal stress on the red algae Gigartina exasperata Harvey and Bailey (PDF). Seattle, WA: University of Washington. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e Harvey, William Henry; Bailey, Jacob Whitman; Gould, B. A. (1851). "Dr. Gould presented, in behalf of Professors W. H. Harvey of Trinity College, Dublin, and J. W. Bailey of West Point, descriptions of seventeen new species of algae collected by the United States Exploring Expedition, as follows" (PDF). Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History (in Latin). 3: 370–373. ISSN 0270-2444. OCLC 1536878. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 5. Gigartina (Mastocarpus) exasperata H. et B., frondis stipite mox in laminam coriaceo-membranaceam bi-tripedalem late lanceolatam integram dilatata, margine incrassato eroso-dentato et appendiculato, disco utrinque spinulis simplicibus ramosisve dense consperso, coccidiis pedicellatis in spinulis marginalibus et e disco ortis immersis. Hab. Opposite Fort Nisqually, Puget Sound.
  12. ^ Gadberry, Bradley A.; Colt, John; Boratyn, Diane C.; Maynard, Desmond J.; Johnson, Ronald B. "INTENSIVE LAND-BASED FARMING OF RED AND GREEN MACROALGAE IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST: AN EVALUATION OF SEASONAL GROWTH AND PROXIMATE COMPOSITION". Aquaculture America 2015 - Meeting Abstract. World Aquaculture Society. Retrieved 29 January 2018. The specific growth of all three species exhibited a similar pattern with the highest specific growth rate observed during summer months (C. exasperatus 7.8%, U. rigida 6.2% and P. palmata 8.2%). Growth of all three species was lowest around the winter solstice
  13. ^ a b McCormick, Thomas B.; Navas, Gabriela; Buckley, Lorraine M.; Biggs, Christopher (December 2016). "Effect of Temperature, Diet, Light, and Cultivation Density on Growth and Survival of Larval and Juvenile White Abalone Haliotis sorenseni (Bartsch, 1940)". Journal of Shellfish Research (Submitted manuscript). 35 (4): 981–992. doi:10.2983/035.035.0421. ISSN 0730-8000. OCLC 6907956712.
  14. ^ "Turkish Towel (Chondracanthus exasperatus)". iNaturalist. San Francisco, CA: California Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 5 September 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e Pawluk, Kylee Ann (3 May 2016). Impacts and interactions of two non-indigenous seaweeds Mazzaella japonica (Mikami) Hommersand and Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt in Baynes Sound, British Columbia (PDF). Victoria, BC: University of Victoria. OCLC 951012535. Archived from the original on 25 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  16. ^ Kerwin, James L.; Johnson, Lisa M.; Whisler, Howard C.; Tuininga, Amy R. (1 May 1992). "Infection and morphogenesis of Pythium marinum in species of Porphyra and other red algae". Canadian Journal of Botany. 70 (5): 1017–1024. doi:10.1139/b92-126. ISSN 0008-4026. OCLC 5140406448. Zoospores encysted on thalli of species of red algae other than Porphyra. Using the disc assay, encystment by Py. marinum was observed on Gigartina exasperata Harvey et Bailey (tetrasporophyte)...
  17. ^ a b Pennings, Steven C.; Carefoot, Thomas H.; Zimmer, Martin; Danko, Jean Paul; Ziegler, Andreas (2000). "Feeding preferences of supralittoral isopods and amphipods" (PDF). Canadian Journal of Zoology. 78 (11): 1918–1929. doi:10.1139/z00-143. ISSN 0008-4301. OCLC 201241291. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  18. ^ Waaland, J. Robert (2004). "Integrating Intensive Aquaculture of the Red Seaweed Chondracanthus exasperatus". 水研センター研報 (Bulletin of Fisheries Research Agency) (Supplement No. 1): 91–100. CiteSeerX ISSN 1346-9894. OCLC 5173360127.
  19. ^ "WSGP-funded seaweed specialist tries a new crop: Turkish towel" (pdf). Aquaculture magazine. Vol. 30 no. 6. Asheville, NC: Achill River Group. 2004. p. 19. ISSN 0199-1388. OCLC 203734567. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  20. ^ US patent US6136329 A, Diane C. Boratyn, "Compositions and methods relating to intra-lamellar gels from algae", published 24 October 2000, assigned to Diane C. Boratyn 
  21. ^ Lewallen, Eleanor; Lewallen, John (21 March 1996). "Bathing with Seaweed". Sea Vegetable Gourmet Cookbook and Wildcrafter's Guide (1st ed.). Mendocino, CA: Mendocino sea Vegetable Company. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0964764378.

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