Chlorophyta, Green Algae

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Cladophoropsis membranacea (Hoffman and C.Agardh) Børgesen

Chlorophyta, Order: Siphonocladales; Family: Valoniaceae. In various books, the Cladophoropsis genus is ascribed to

different families. Sometimes it appears under Cladophoraceae, sometimes under Siphonocaceae, sometimes under Anadyomenaceae, and sometimes under other family names.

The Cladophoropsis genus is separated into the Cladophora genus due to several attributes: its branching of side branches, and the multi-nuclear character of the individuals. Some suggest incorporating it into a separate, parallel family in the Cladophorales order.

Etymology

The generic name refers to Cladophora, the genus from which it was separated, and means ‘carrier of branches’. Membranaceas refers to the membrane between the segments.

Description

The Cladophoropsis resembles light green, compact cushions and is common in the wave-breaking region. The cushions are made of a dense mass of thin, branched ‘stalks’. The alga attaches to the substrate using a multi-cellular holdfast. Microscopic examination of branched side-branches reveals that, as opposed to the Cladophora, there is no separation between the central branch and the side branches, and together they form one multi-nuclear entity. Membranes form the separation between the joints (see illustration).

Size

The branches grow to 5-6 cm in length and less than 1 mm in width.

Colour

Soft, light green that turns white upon dehydration.

Special features

The Cladophoropsis resembles the Cladophora in its external shape, and the two can easily be confused. Microscopic examination reveals that there is no cell wall between the central ‘stalk’ and the side branches (see illustration), as opposed to species of the Cladophora genus. The algae ‘cushion’ shape can help to identify it in the field, but for edification, it should be examined through a microscope. Without optical aides, the Cladophoropsis can easily be mistaken for a species of Cladophora.

Habitat

The Cladophoropsis develops in the upper region of the intertidal zone, and it is sometimes exposed to the air.

Biology and reproduction

The alga forms a habitat for marine wildlife which hides inside the dense cushions. It is not rare to find crabs and

Cladophoropsis membranacea - lateral walls separate between the joints. Each side-branching is a continuation of the joint beneath it.

other invertebrates populating the Cladophoropsis. Although the alga is common, very little is known of its biology.

Seasonality and distribution

Cladophoropsis can be found along the coast throughout nearly the entire year, but it is less common in summer. The species characterizes tropical and sub-tropical seas.

Additional species

About 20 species are known within the Cladophoropsis genus. Many of them can be found in various places around the Mediterranean. An additional species described along Israeli shores is Cladophoropsis modonensis ( Kutzing ) Reinbold. Another species of Cladophoropsis reported in Egypt is Cladophoropsis zollingerii ( Kutzing ) Reinbold = Cladophoropsis javanica ( Kutzing ) Silva.

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