Chlorophyta, Green Algae
Chlorophyta, Order: Cladophorales; Family: Cladophoraceae.
Cladophora, means ‘branch carrier’, describing the branches of the thallus which resemble side branches.
A green, filamentous alga, its filament is comprised of one row of cells. Through a microscope, branch-like divisions are evident the entire length of the filament. The branching points in the same direction from one side of a central axis, in some species.
The cells are 1-2 mm in width, often even less than a millimeter. They are longer than their width, reaching several centimeters in length.
Various shades of green, from dark green to greenish-yellow.
The Cladophora genus includes a number of species. In the past, about 300 species were described along Mediterranean coasts; however these numbers decreased following the impressive work of Professor van den Hoek, from Holland (Hoek, 1963). As previously mentioned, classification is difficult owing to the simple structure, and is often based upon the relationship between the cells’ length and (average) width and upon the structure of the holdfast. An additional problem is the difficulty in comparing species collected in the past, and kept dried and preserved in herbaria, based upon which previous species were named. Modern methods, such as examination of chromosomes and protein, cannot be applied to most dried individuals.
A microscopic photograph of the thallus, the typical structure of cells can be seen. Cladophora, a spore-bearing individual. Habitat
Cladophora species may be found in the entire intertidal zone, above and below, in a variety of habitats.
Biology and reproduction
The Cladophora genus is very primordial, and fossilized examples have been found in various locations around the world. This pre existence and the simple structure perhaps explain the large variety of species in the genus.
Species so far examined present an isomorphic life cycle. Reproductive cells of the Cladophora are identical in shape and have zoospores. Asexual reproduction may be through spores, budding or segmentation.
Seasonality and distribution
Individuals of Cladophora can be found throughout the year, especially in winter and spring. Some species develop in fresh water.
About thirty species of Cladophora have so far been reported in this region.The most common are: Cladophora pellucida (Hudson) Kutzing
Cladophora prolifera (Roth) Kutzing Professor Giaccone from Italy defined the Cladophora pseudopellucida van den Hoek, in Israel.
Some species of Cladophora are used in north-eastern Europe to treat burns.