Algal Spores


Algal spores are cells that can reproduce independently (i.e. asexually) an individual of that species. In their turbulent hydrodynamic environment, dispersal, adhesion and recruitment are moderated by a range of environmental cues and signals.

Keywords: dispersal; recruitment; adhesion; cues; signals

Figure 1.

Section through red algal cystocarp (of Radicilingua thysanorhizans) showing mass of carposporangia enclosed in mucilage within outer cystocarp wall. The cystocarp opening is a Venturi tube through which released carpospores are expelled with force, and drift off in a skein of mucilage. Inset, carpospores suspended in Indian ink (shaded) which reveals their mucilage sheaths. (Derived partly from D. Boney (1981) Mucilage: the ubiquitous algal attribute. British Phycological Journal16: 115–132.)

Figure 2.

Carpospores of red alga (Spyridia filamentosa): superimposed montage of six images, each 4 seconds apart, showing spores moving at variable speeds, or stationary. (Reproduced from Pickett‐Heaps et al., )

Figure 3.

Summary of features involved in the settlement and adhesion of zoospores of Enteromorpha and other green algae. The swimming spore (a) appears to ‘sense’ the surface via an apical papilla (b) on which it rotates and may become temporarily attached to the surface by a small deposit of elastic material (c). Permanent adhesion (d) is characterized by the discharge of the contents of Golgi‐derived, adhesive‐containing cytoplasmic vesicles as the cell contracts against the substratum and retraction of the microfibrils of the flagella inside the cell. The newly settled spore is surrounded by secreted ‘adhesive’ material and has lost the intracellular adhesive vesicles of the swimming spores.



Amsler CD, Shelton KL, Britton CJ, Spencer NY and Green SP (1999) Nutrients do not influence swimming behavior or settlement rates of Ectocarpus siliculosus (Phaeophyceae) spores. Journal of Phycology 35: 239–244.

Butterfield NJ (2000) Bangiomorpha pubescens n. gen., n. sp.: implications for the evolution of sex, multicellularity, and the Mesoproterozoic/Neoproterozoic radiation of eukaryotes. Paleobiology 26: 386–404.

Callow ME, Callow JA, Pickett‐Heaps JD and Wetherbee R (1997) Primary adhesion of Enteromorpha (Chlorophyta, Ulvales) propagules: quantitative settlement studies and video microscopy. Journal of Phycology 33: 938–947.

Callow ME, Callow JA, Ista LK, Coleman SE, Nolasco AC and Lopez GP (2000) Use of self‐assembled monolayers of different wettabilities to study surface selection and primary adhesion processes of green algal (Enteromorpha) zoospores. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 66: 3249–3254.

Denboh T, Suzuki M, Mizuno Y and Ichimura T (1997) Suppression of Laminaria sporelings by allelochemicals from coralline red algae. Botanica Marina 40: 249–256.

Johnson LD (1994) Enhanced settlement on microtopographical high points by the intertidal red alga Halosaccion glandiforme. Limnology and Oceanography 39: 1893–1902.

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Pickett‐Heaps JD, West JA, Wilson SM and McBride DL (2001) Time‐lapse videomicroscopy of cell (spore) movement in red algae. European Journal of Phycology 36: 9–22.

Reed DC, Amsler CD and Ebeling AW (1992) Dispersal in kelps: factors affecting spore swimming and competency. Ecology 73: 1577–1585.

Stanley MS, Callow ME and Callow JA (1999) Monoclonal antibodies to adhesive cell coat glycoproteins secreted by zoospores of the green alga Enteromorpha. Planta 210: 61–71.

Stratmann J, Paputsoglu G and Oertel W (1996) Differentiation of Ulva mutabilis (Chlorophyta) gametangia and gamete release are controlled by extracellular inhibitors. Journal of Phycology 32: 1009–1021.

Further Reading

Amsler CD, Reed DC and Neushul M (1992) The microclimate inhabited by macroalgal propagules. British Phycological Journal 27: 253–270.

Clayton MN (1992) Propagules of marine macroalgae: structure and development. British Phycological Journal 27: 219–232.

Fletcher RL and Callow ME (1992) The settlement, attachment and establishment of marine algal spores. British Phycological Journal 27: 303–329.

Guiry MD (1990) Sporangia and spores. In: Cole KM and Sheath RG (eds) Biology of the Red Algae, pp 347–376. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lobban CS and Harrison PJ (1994) Seaweed Ecology and Physiology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lüning K (1990) Seaweeds: their Environment, Biogeography and Ecophysiology. New York: Wiley‐Interscience.

Murray SN and Dixon PS (1992) Rhodophyta: some aspects of their biology III. Oceanography and Marine Biology An Annual Review 30: 1–148.

Santelices B (1990) Patterns of reproduction, dispersal and recruitment in seaweeds. Oceanography and Marine Biology An Annual Review 28: 177–276.

Vadas RL, Johnson S and Norton TA (1992) Recruitment and mortality of early post‐settlement stages of benthic algae. British Phycological Journal 27: 331–351.

van den Hoek C, Mann DG and Jahns HM (1995) Algae An Introduction to Phycology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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How to Cite close
Maggs, Christine A, and Callow, Maureen E(May 2003) Algal Spores. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000311]