Parmales

Abstract

The Parmales are a group of marine microalgae, closely related to the Bolidophyceae and the diatoms. The parmalean cell includes a chloroplast (with chlorophylls a+c1+c2+c3), Golgi body, nucleus, mitochondrion and large vacuole, but lacks flagella. The cell wall is composed of 5–8 interlocking siliceous plates, which exhibit distinct dorsal, ventral, shield and girdle plate morphologies. The group currently includes approximately 20 taxa, mostly described from high latitudes, although some tropical species also have been reported. Parmalean algae reach high absolute abundances in the spring, before sinking to the pycnocline in the summer – a strategy similar to the centric diatoms. Their rare occurrences in sediment trap and surface sediments suggest that the siliceous plates are mostly recycled in the photic zone, yet plates of parmalean algae have been discovered in older sediments, although their true stratigraphic distribution remains unknown.

Key Concepts:

  • Recent gene sequences have shown that the Parmales are closely related to the Bolidophyceae and the diatoms, with similar cell features and pigment composition.

  • Cells are covered by 5–8 silicified plates, consisting of three or four types (shield, girdle, ventral and/or distal), arranged in a particular pattern and with distinct morphology, which defines each genus.

  • At present no flagellate stage, ploidy level or life cycle has been identified, however, it is possible that the nonmotile silica plate‐bearing cells are diploid, and alternate with a naked bolidophyte‐like flagellate haploid stage.

  • Most taxa inhabit high latitude areas, although tropical taxa also exist.

  • Studies have shown their ecology is similar to that of the centric diatoms, with assemblages remaining in their silicified form throughout the year and sinking to the pycnocline in the summer.

  • Remains of parmalean cells found in the fossil record suggest at least an early Cenozoic origin, but when molecular clock calculations are made in the future a much older origin is expected.

Keywords: marine; microalgae; plates; plankton; silica

Figure 1.

Schematic diagram of a sectioned parmalean cell, based on Figure 11 in Marchant and McEldowney . Reproduced with permission from Springer.

Figure 2.

(a) Four parmalean taxa of different sizes (St. KNOT, KH99‐3, western North Pacific, 60 m). (b) Two cells of Tetraparma pelagica, one with and other without central spines (St. KNOT, KH99‐3, western North Pacific, 60 m). (c) Cell of T. pelagica showing one shield plate missing, exposing the flanges (arrow) of the surrounding plates (St. 19, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water). (d) Collapsed cell of T. pelagica showing exposed flanges of several plates and the hole at the end of one of the arms of the distal plate (arrows) (St. 19, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water).

Figure 3.

Siliceous plate configurations of Tetraparma pelagica showing (a) cell in dorsal view (St. 19, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water) and (b) cell in girdle view (St. 20, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water), and of Triparma columacea subsp. alata showing. (c) Cell in shield view (St. 19, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water) and (d) cell in girdle view (St. 20, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water). d=distal plate, g=girdle plate, s=shield plate, v=ventral plate.

Figure 4.

Examples of each of the three parmalean genera: (a) Pentalamina corona (St. 3, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water), (b) Tetraparma pelagica (St. 20, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water) and (c) Triparma columacea subsp. alata (St. 19, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water).

Figure 5.

(a) Filter with numerous parmalean cells (St. 337, Conrad 10, southern Bering Sea, surface water). (b) Combination cell with Tetraparma pelagica (upper) and T. gracilis (lower) (St. 3, KH07‐4, Southern Ocean, surface water). (c) Collapsed cell of T. pelagica, containing inside either an identical but incompletely formed cell cover or an unidentified life cycle phase (St. 337, Conrad 10, southern Bering Sea, surface water). (d) Zooplankton faecal pellet containing parmalean cells (St. KNOT, KH99‐3, western North Pacific, 150 m).

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Further Reading

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Marchant HJ and Scott FJ (2005) Chrysophytes. In: Scott FJ and Marchant HJ (eds) Antarctic Marine Protists, pp. 295–307. Canberra and Hobart, Australia: ABRS and AAD.

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How to Cite close
Konno, Susumu, and Jordan, Richard W(Mar 2012) Parmales. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023691]