Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

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Chemistry

Mastocarpus has the characteristic chemistry of the red algae. The primary photosynthetic pigment is chlorophyll a and the accessory pigments are phycobilins (phycoerythrin and phycocyanin).

Floridean starch, similar to the amylpectin of higher plants, is the major storage product in red algae. Other storage products have been noted including trehalose, floridoside, isofloridoside, maltose, and sucrose.

The cell wall of red algae is variable, from calcium carbonate to cellulose to protein. The main features of all red algal cell walls are the inner rigid matrix of microfibrils and an outer mucilage or slide. See references.

Mastocarpus, like many other Gigartinales produces carageenan, used commercially as an additive in many foods for its mucous-like properties. Mastocarpus is not harvested commercially, but scientists are looking into farming some of its Gigartinales relatives. For more on Mastocarpus carageenan, look up Chen and Craigie 1981 in the references.


Mastocarpus pages copyright W. Ludington 1999