Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Codium setchellii


Various species of algae live on other plants, so-called epiphytes. Such epiphytes are most common on crustose forms (though they do occur on erect algal forms), and Codium setchellii is no exception. A variety of species were observed growing on C. setchellii in the field.

Small red algae were observed on both species of Codium in Carmel. These red algae were fine and filamentous. When out of the water, they appeared as nothing more than a course film on the alga, but when submerged, these epiphytes branch out. The epiphytes were likely some species of Ceramium, which commonly occurs on C. fragile. More information on Ceramium can be found here.

Fig. 1: Codium setchellii (left) and C. fragile (right) observed in Carmel (CA) with small filamentous, epiphytic red algae

Epiphytes on Codium setchellii

The literature shows a wide variety of algae living epiphytically on Codium setchellii (Silva 2004). Some examples include:

  • Anthithamnion densum
  • Ceramium gardneri
  • Ectocarpus commensalis
  • Ectocarpus siliculosus
  • Erythrotrichea carnea
  • Feldmannia simplex
  • Griffithsia pacifica
  • Herposiphonia plumula
  • Polysiphonia pacifica
  • Porphyrostromium boryanum
  • Pterosiphonia dendroidea

Various, unidentified red filamentous algae were observed on the Codium setchellii crusts in the field at the Carmel site. Some fleshy red algae were also observed growing epiphytically on the C. setchellii crusts iin Carmel. Interestingly, the specimens observed at Point Pinos (Pacific Grove, CA) did not have any visible epiphytes.

Figure 2: Close-up of C. setchellii with epiphytes -
filamentous red alga (bottom), filamentous brown alga (right), and small erect red alga (upper left)

Figure 3: Epiphytes of C. setchellii - erect coralline algae and other erect red algae

Endophytes? in Codium setchellii

Previous work has found some algae living between the utricles of C. setchellii. According to DeCew's Guide, Acrochaetium rhizoideum occurrs "endophytically" in C. setchellii. Upon sectioning specimens of C. setchellii collected locally from the field, various plants were found inside the alga's tissues. A fine red filament was very common inside the tissue of one specimen; it remains unknown if this filament was a red alga or a collection of cyanobacteria (unfortunately the lack of powerful microscopes prevented a thorough analysis). There is a small chance this filament was actually epiphytic (not endophytic) and sectioning the alga mixed the sample, however, the intricate entanglement of the red filaments among the utricles suggests they are indeed endophytes if that satisfied the definition of an endophyte..

Figure. 4: Unidentified red filaments (either a red alga or cyanbacteria) among the C. setchellii utricles

Animal Communities in Codium setchellii

Not only were numerous plant species found to be utilizing C. setchellii as substrate for settlement and growth, but various animals were found in close association with the alga. On a macroscopic level, various amphipods and isopods were found underneath the crusts during collection. These small crustaceans were not identified to species, but the alga undoubtedly hosts a diverse assemblage of small crustaceans.

On a microscopic scale, small animals were found living within the tissue of C. setchellii specimens brought back to the lab. Several specimens were observed hosting worms (likely nematode worms, but too small to fully classify even to phylum). One specimen was also found with a microscopic amphipod among the utricles. Yet another hosted a microscopic ostracod, apparently still thriving within the alga's utricles.

Figure 5: Worms (probably nematodes) thriving within the utricles of C. setchellii

Figure. 6: An ostracod found among utricles of C. setchellii, still kicking its appendages and opening its hinged carapace


Choose one of the following links to learn more about Codium setchellii:

|Taxonomy | Distribution | Habitat | Structure & Morphology | Cellular Structure |

| Reproduction & Life Cycle | Ecology | Epiphytes | References |

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© 2005 Raúl Nava. Text and images freely available for personal, educational use (please credit).
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Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009