Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Pigmentation in Articulated Coralline Algae

       Like other producers, corallines can be characterized by the pigments they carry, the organization of their chloroplasts, and the type of polysaccharide used for energy storage. The primary pigments of the geniculates are chlorophyll a and phycobilins (phycobiliproteins). Chloroplast organization is double membrane-bound with unstacked thylakoids. And the storage products of photosythetically produced energy are grains of floridean starch.

articulated coralline on red alga

Articulates bear many similarities in pigmentation and chloroplast 

organization to other algae.

       An interesting feature of the genera Bossiella is that pigments are unevenly concentrated throughout the alga with higher pigmentation occurring on the dorsal surface. Although this differential pigmentation is primarily observed in the phycobiliprotein phycoerythrin, it is likely characteristic of other pigments as well. Furthermore, research has shown that algal orientation and level of irradiance can influence chlorophyll a and phycoerythrin distribution. In particular, pigmentation has been shown to significantly increase over time with decreasing levels of light intensity. These results suggest that articulates are able to adapt to changes in their environment by varying the amount and distribution of pigment they contain.

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© 2001 Ian Ehrenreich. All rights reserved.