Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
Census of SA Plants, Algae & Fungi
Identification tools

Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Lithothamnion muelleri Lenormand ex Rosanoff 1866: 101, pl. 6 figs 8–11.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Corallinales – Family Corallinaceae – Subfamily Melobesioideae

Selected citations: De Toni 1905: 1750. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 390. Wilks & Woelkerling 1995: 553, figs 1–6. Woelkerling 1983a: 190, figs 29–33.


Lithothamnion muelleri f. cingens Foslie 1900b: 69. Woelkerling 1993: 51.

Archaeolithothamnion mirabile Foslie 1899: 3. Woelkerling 1993: 151.

Lithothamnion mirabile (Foslie) Foslie 1909: 4.

Lithothamnion gabrieli Foslie 1905b: 3. Woelkerling 1993: 101.

Mesophyllum gabrieli (Foslie) Adey 1970: 24.

Thallus normally dull pinkish, encrusting to warty, mostly 15–40 mm across and 0.1–4 mm thick or tall, epigenous and completely affixed by cell adhesion; protuberant branches simple or branched, mostly 1–4 mm in diameter and 1–6 mm long. Structure pseudoparenchymatous; organisation dorsiventral in crustose portions but radial in protuberant branches; construction monomerous, consisting of a single system of branched, laterally cohering, filaments that collectively contribute to a ventrally situated core in crustose portions or centrally situated core in protuberant branches and a peripheral region where portions of core filaments or their derivatives curve outwards towards the thallus surface, each filament composed of cells 2–15 µm in diameter and 2–30 µm long; epithallial cells 2–8 µm in diameter and 1–8 µm long, terminating most filaments at the thallus surface, with distal walls flattened and flared; cell elongation occurring mainly within actively dividing subepithallial initials that are mostly as long as or longer than their immediate inward derivatives; cells of adjacent filaments joined by cell-fusions; secondary pit-connections, haustoria, and trichocytes unknown.

Reproduction: Vegetative reproduction unknown. Gametangia and carposporophytes produced in uniporate conceptacles; tetrasporangia produced in multiporate conceptacles. Bisporangia unknown.

Gametangial thalli dioecious. Carpogonia and young female conceptacles unknown. Mature female-carposporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above or flush with surrounding thallus surface, 50–170 µm thick, composed of 5–25 layers of cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers 240–600 µm in diameter and 100–200 µm high. Mature carposporophytes apparently lacking a conspicuous central fusion cell and consisting of several-celled gonimoblast filaments bearing terminal carposporangia 50–80 µm in diameter. Spermatangial filaments arising from the floor, walls and roof of male conceptacle chambers; nature of spermatangial branching not observed; mature male conceptacle roofs protruding above or flush with surrounding thallus surface, 125–140 µm thick, composed of 12–16 layers of cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers 200–275 µm in diameter and 60–75 µm high.

Tetrasporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above or flush with surrounding surface, 5–9 cells thick above the chamber, not pitted with surface depressions around pore canals, pore canals lined by cells that are similar in size and shape to other roof cells, conceptacle chambers 280–750 µm in diameter and 150–200 µm high; tetrasporangia scattered across the conceptacle chamber floor, each mature sporangium 30–140 µm in diameter and 100–175 µm long, containing zonately arranged tetraspores and possessing an apical plug that blocks a roof pore prior to spore release.

Type from Western Port, Vic.; lectotype in CN (Herb. Lenormand, unnumbered); designated by Woelkerling (1983a, p. 190); depicted in Woelkerling (1983a, fig. 29) and Wilks & Woelkerling (1995, fig. 1A).

Selected specimens: Point Valiant, Two People Bay, W. Aust., 0–5 m deep (Woelkerling, 2.ii.1978; LTB, 10727). Reef 10.4 km E of Eyre, W. Aust., 0–1 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 3.ii.1984; LTB, 14121). Point Malcolm, SW of Israelite Bay, W. Aust., 0–2 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 7.ii.1984; LTB, 14218). Elliston, S. Aust., 6 or 11 m deep (Turner, 28–29.x.1981; LTB, 15364, 15365, 15369). Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., 0–0.5 m deep (Campbell & Penrose, 8.iv.1988; LTB, 15719). Cape Willoughby (60 nautical miles S), Kangaroo I., S. Aust., 85 m deep (Bone, 14.iii.1989; AD, A59823 = LTB, 15927). Cape Willoughby (16 nautical miles SW), Kangaroo I., S. Aust., 65 m deep (Bone, 13.iii.1989; AD, A59825 = LTB, 15962). Cape Jarvis, S. Aust., 6–12 m deep (Turner, 16.ix.1981; LTB, 15439). Potato Patch Reef, Anglesea, Vic., 8–9 m deep (Beanland, 31.viii.1982; LTB, 12715). Western Port Bay, Vic. (Harvey 1851; CN, unnumbered, lectotype; L 941.149–249, isolectotype; MEL, 588439, isolectotype). Ocean Beach, Phillip I., Vic. (Gabriel, April 1905; TRH unnumbered, holotype of Lithothamnion gabrieli). Corner Inlet, Vic., 14–18 m deep (Gabriel, i-ii.1897; TRH unnumbered, holotype of Lithothamnion mirabile). South Shore, Variety Bay, Bruny I., Tas., 2–4 m deep (Platt, Woelkerling & Brown, 17.ii.1983; LTB, 12988).

Distribution map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of SA

Distribution: Point Valiant, Two People Bay, W. Aust., to Corner Inlet, Vic., and from Bruny I., Tas.

Records from Tierra del Fuego (Hariot 1895, p. 99; Lemoine 1913, p. 24; Papenfuss 1964, p. 31; Skottsberg 1941, p. 79) require confirmation and may involve misidentifications (see A. Harvey et al. 1994, p. 340).

Taxonomic notes: Lithothamnion muelleri occurs intertidally on reefs and in pools and is known subtidally to depths of 85 m. Thalli have been found growing on rock and on algae. Spermatangial thalli and carposporophytes are known with certainty only from two isolectotype collections (L, 941.149–249; MEL, 588439), and the nature of spermatangial branching has not been determined, thus leaving some uncertainty over whether Lithothamnion, which is typified by L. muelleri, is characterised by the presence of branched spermatangial filaments.

Additional references involving these binomials and further information on synonymy are provided by Wilks & Woelkerling (1995). Most published records of L. muelleri require confirmation as the name has been misapplied to thalli now known to belong to Synarthrophyton patena (see Harvey et al. 1994, p. 340; Wilks & Woelkerling 1995, p. 554).


ADEY, W.H. (1970). A revision of the Foslie crustose coralline herbarium. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1970 (1), 1–46.

DE TONI, G.B. (1905). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 4. Florideae. Sect. 4, pp. 1523–1973. (Padua.)

FOSLIE, M. (1899). Some new or critical lithothamnia. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1898(6), 1–19.

FOSLIE, M. (1900b). Remarks on Melobesieae in Herbarium Crouan. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1899(7), 1–16.

FOSLIE, M. (1905b). New lithothamnia and systematical remarks. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1905(5), 1–9.

FOSLIE, M. (1909). Algologiske notiser. VI. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1909(2), 1–63.

HARIOT, P. (1895). Nouvelle contribution a l'étude des algues de la region magellanique. J. Bot., Paris 9, 95–99.

HARVEY, A.S., WOELKERLING, W.J. & WILKS, K.M. (1994). The genus Synarthrophyton (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta) in southern Australia. Phycologia 33, 331–342.

LEMOINE, M.(Mme P.) (1913). Mélobésiées. Revision des mélobésiées Antarctiques. In Charcot, J. (Ed.), Deuxième Expédition Antarctique Française (1908–1910) Commandée par le Dr Jean Charcot. Sciences Naturelles Vol.1. Botanique, pp. 1–67, Plates 1–2. (Masson et Cie: Paris.)

LUCAS, A.H.S. & PERRIN, F. (1947). The Seaweeds of South Australia. Part 2. The Red Seaweeds. (Govt Printer: Adelaide.)

PAPENFUSS, G.F. (1964). Catalogue and bibliography of antarctic and subantarctic benthic marine algae. Am. geophys. Un. Antarctic Res. Ser., 1, 1–76.

ROSANOFF, S. (1866). Recherches anatomiques sur les Mélobésiées. Mem. Soc. Imper. Sci. Nat. Cherbourg 12, 5–112, Plates 1–7.

SKOTTSBERG, C. (1941). Communities of marine algae in subantacrtic and antarctic waters. K. Svenska Vetensk. Akad. Handl., Ser. 3, 19(4), 1–92, 3 Plates.

WILKS, K.M. & WOELKERLING, W.J. (1995). An account of southern Australian species of Lithothamnion (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta). Aust. Syst. Bot. 8, 549–583.

WOELKERLING, W.J. (1983a). A taxonomic reassessment of Lithothamnium Philippi (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta) based on studies of R.A. Philippi's original collections. Br. phycol. J. 18, 165–197.

WOELKERLING, Wm.J. (1993). Type collections of Corallinales (Rhodophyta) in the Foslie Herbarium (TRH). Gunneria 67, 1–289.

The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part IIIB complete list of references.

Author: W.J. Woelkerling

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (28 June, 1996)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIIB. Gracilarialse, Rhodymeniales, Corallinales and Bonnemaisoniales
Reproduced with permission from The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part IIIB 1996, by H.B.S. Womersley. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia.

Illustrations in Womersley Part IIIA, 1996: FIGS 76, 77.

Figure 76 image

Figure 76   enlarge

Fig. 76. Lithothamnion muelleri (A, E, LTB, 14121; B, LTB, 15364; C, D, LTB, 15719). A. Encrusting to warty thallus on rock. B. Surface view of tetrasporangial conceptacle. C. Surface view of tetrasporangial conceptacle roof showing pore canals flush with the surface. D. Portion of tetrasporangial conceptacle roof with pore canals and bordering filaments whose cells usually do not differ in size and shape from cells in other roof filaments. E. Section of mature tetrasporangial conceptacle showing sporangia with zonately arranged spores (s).

Figure 77 image

Figure 77   enlarge

Fig. 77. Lithothamnion muelleri (A, B, L, 941.149-249, isolectotype). A. Section of old dried female-carposporangial conceptacle with mature carposporophyte. B. Section of old dried male conceptacle with remnants of spermatangial filaments on chamber floor and roof.

Disclaimer Copyright Disclaimer Copyright Email Contact:
State Herbarium of South Australia
Government of South Australia Government of South Australia Government of South Australia Department for Environment and Water