Effects of seawater temperature and seasonal irradiance on growth, reproduction, and survival of the endemic Antarctic brown alga Desmarestia menziesii

Inka.Bartsch [ at ] awi.de


Endemic Antarctic macroalgae are especially adapted to live in extreme Antarctic conditions. Their potential biogeographic distribution niche is primarily controlled by the photoperiodic regime and seawater temperatures, since these parameters regulate growth, reproduction, and survival during the entire life cycle. Here we analyzed the upper survival temperature (UST) of juvenile sporophytes and the temperature range for sporophyte formation from gametophytes of Desmarestia menziesii, one of the dominant endemic Antarctic brown algal species. This process is a missing link to better evaluate the full biogeographical niche of this species. Two laboratory experiments were conducted. First, growth and maximum quantum yield of juvenile sporophytes were analyzed under a temperature gradient (0, 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 °C) in a 16:8 h light:dark (LD) regime (Antarctic spring condition) for 2 weeks. Second, the formation of sporophytes from gametophytes (as a proxy of gametophyte reproduction) was evaluated during a 7 weeks period under a temperature gradient (0, 4, 8, 12, and 16 °C), and two different photoperiods: 6:18 h LD regime simulating winter conditions and a light regime simulating the Antarctic shift from winter to spring by gradually increasing the light period from 7.5:16.5 h LD (late winter) to 18.5:5.5 h LD (late spring). Sporophytes of D. menziesii were able to grow and survive up to 14 °C for 2 weeks without visible signs of morphological damage. Thus, this species shows the highest UST of all endemic Antarctic Desmarestiales species. In turn, gametophyte reproduction solely took place at 0 °C but not at 4–8 °C. The number of emerging sporophytes was six times higher under the light regime simulating the transition from winter to spring than under constant short day winter conditions. There was a negative relationship between the number of sporophytes formed and the gametophyte density at the beginning of the experiment, which provides evidence that gametophyte density exerts some control upon reproduction in D. menziesii. Results strongly indicate that although sporophytes and gametophytes may survive in warmer temperatures, the northernmost distribution limit of D. menziesii in South Georgia Islands is set by the low temperature requirements for gametophyte reproduction. Hence, global warming could have an impact on the distribution of this and other Antarctic species, by influencing their growth and reproduction.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1007/s00300-021-02991-5

Cite as
Matula, C. V. , Quartino, M. L. , Nunez, J. D. , Zacher, K. and Bartsch, I. (2022): Effects of seawater temperature and seasonal irradiance on growth, reproduction, and survival of the endemic Antarctic brown alga Desmarestia menziesii , Polar Biology . doi: 10.1007/s00300-021-02991-5

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Funded by
FP7 IRSES: Action No. 318718 / H2020 Marie-Curie Action RISE: 872690antAgreement/EC/H2020/23456

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