Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Plocamium Chemotaxonomy

There has been research done with P. cartilageneum that highlights problems in the already questionable field of chemotaxonomy. A study done in Washington done by Naylor et al. (1983) found adjacent species of Microcladia (Ceramiacea, Ceramiales) and Plocamium containing the same terpenoids. This proved the ability of these algae to concentrate terpenoids from seawater which shows a weakness in the field of chemotaxonomy (chemotaxonomy assumes that terpenoids are produced internally and are specific to different orders of algae).

In another locality off the coast of Chile, the same halogenated monoterpenes were found in species of different orders, Schottera (Phyllophoracea, Gigartinales) and P. cartilageneum (Rivera et al., 1987). It is likely that P. cartilageneum in Chile absorbs terpenoids from seawater (Cole, 1990), and thus does not have taxonomically separate chemotypes, but merely displays populations with differing chemotypes (found by San-Martin and Rovirosa, (1986)) that are dependent on the local environment (Cole, 1990).

HMLR = Hopkins Marine Life Refuge, located off Cabrillo Point, Pacific Grove, CA.


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