Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

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Nongeniculate coralline

Morphology and Characteristics:

Thallus   Cells   Photosynthetic Pigments   Chloroplasts

Nongeniculate corallines can be easily found by their bright pink to purple colors and their hard surface from a calcium carbonate cell wall. They have a variety of compositions such as smooth and flat, bumpy and flat, ribbon-like, protuberant, filamentous and branched. Similarly to corals, in the sun algae can become bleached and lose its pigments appearing white. A coralline alga can be found as small as a few millimeters to large conglomerates over 10 centimeters.

Thallus: The thalli of corallines are very diverse making it difficult to make large generalizations. However, when divided into groups by their structures it becomes easier to classify.

  • Crustose:

    • pseudoparenchymatous

    • lack a hold fast (some do have stalks)

  • Protuberant:

    • thallus of varying shape due to branched cylindrical protuberances

    • anchor with localized adhesion of protuberances

  • Taeniform:

    • flat ribbon-like branches intertwined or upright

    • anchor by localized cellular adhesion or holdfast with stipe

Despite these predictable forms of corallines, they also occur in some counterintuitive ways such as unattached and semi-endophytic. An unattached coralline can arise from either a piece of coralline that broke off and continues to grow or an alga that has grown over its substrate such as a small rock or shell. Semi-endophytic algae are partially or mostly buried within its host with only its conceptacles outside the host.

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© 2001 Melissa Roth