The Development and Potential Roles of Cell-Wall Trabeculae in Caulerpa Mexicana (Chlorophyta)


Siphonous plants represent an alternate scheme to the way most macroscopic plants are constructed. They are single, often large (1-2 m), sometimes morphologically complex, multinucleate (coenocytic) cells where the whole of the cytoplasm is a continuum. Caulerpa mexicana Sond. ex Kutz. is a siphonous tropical marine green alga characterized by four morphologically distinct regions and, as with other members of the genus, by the presence of a dense network of anastomosing cylindrical cell wall in growths called trabeculae. Based on the results of this study, we propose several roles for trabeculae: (i) They are structural components, which likely add some small amount of support in compression but add considerable strength in tension. (ii) As extensions of the cell wall and plasma membrane, they act as diffusion channels from the cell exterior to the interior cytoplasm. It is possible that trabeculae also play a role in determining cell shape through developmental positioning and placement patterns, thus facilitating the diverse shapes found in the morphologically distinct regions of Caulerpa sp.

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Journal of Phycology


John Wiley and Sons

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© 2009 Phycological Society of America