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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Sporolithon durum (Foslie) Townsend & Woelkerling in Townsend et al. 1995: 86, figs 1–17.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Corallinales – Family Sporolithaceae


Archaeolithothamnion durum Foslie 1907a: 11. Adey 1970: 18. Adey & Lebednik 1967: 84. Dawson 1960a: 41. De Toni 1924: 606. Johnson 1963: 206, pl. 30 fig. 9. Woelkerling 1993: 80.

Sporolithon erythraeum sensu Woelkerling 1988: 207.

Thallus normally pinkish to grey-pink, encrusting to warty, lumpy or fruticose, mostly 30–195 mm across and 1–115 mm thick or tall, epigenous and completely affixed by cell adhesion or unattached and forming rhodoliths mostly 16–114 mm in greatest dimension; protuberant branches simple or branched, free from one another or fused to varying degrees, mostly 5–26 mm in diameter and 5–23 mm long. Structure pseudoparenchymatous; organisation dorsiventral in crustose portions and radial in protuberant branches; construction monomerous, consisting of a single system of branched, laterally cohering, filaments that collectively contribute to a ventrally or centrally situated core and a peripheral region where portions of core filaments or their derivatives curve outwards towards the thallus surface, each filament composed of cells 5–12 pin in diameter and 6–23 µm long; epithallial cells 2–5 µm in diameter and 7–10 µm long, terminating most filaments at the thallus surface, with distal walls flattened and flared; cell elongation occurring mainly behind actively dividing subepithallial initials that are most commonly as short as or shorter than their immediate inward derivatives; cells of adjacent filaments joined by cell-fusions, secondary pit-connections apparently uncommon and not observed in most (southern Australian) thalli; haustoria absent; one trichocyte recorded.

Reproduction: Vegetative reproduction by thallus fragmentation. Gametangia and carposporophytes produced in uniporate conceptacles; tetrasporangia produced on separate thalli in calcified compartments that are aggregated into son and are derived from the walls of tetrasporangial initials. Bisporangia unknown.

Gametangial thalli probably dioecious. Carpogonia terminating 2–4-celled filaments arising from the female conceptacle chamber floor and sometimes from the chamber walls. Mature female-carposporangial conceptacle roofs flush with or slightly protruding above the surrounding thallus surface, 13–215 µm thick, composed of 3–18 layers of cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers 80–445 µm in diameter and 70–370 µm high. Carposporophytes apparently consisting only of carposporangia 16–30 µm in diameter and 105–119 µm long, developing directly from fertilized carpogonia and subtended by one- or several-celled stalks that presumably are the remains of carpogonial filaments; fusion cells and gonimoblast filaments unknown. Spermatangial filaments branched, arising from the floor and roof of male conceptacle chambers, mature conceptacle roofs flush with or slightly sunken below surrounding thallus surface, 13–81 µm thick, composed of 3–11 layers of cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers 67–245 µm in diameter and 67–122 µm high.

Tetrasporangial son irregularly shaped, (<1-) 5–15 (–40) mm in greatest dimension and very slightly raised above surrounding thallus surface, composed of sterile filaments and calcified compartments, each compartment with a tetrasporangium; each mature sporangium 38–60 µm in diameter and 80–110 µm long, containing cruciately arranged tetraspores and possessing an apical plug that blocks the compartmental pore prior to spore release; older son almost always sloughed off.

Type from Cape Jaffa, South Australia; lectotype in TRH (unnumbered; includes two slides both numbered 355); designated by Adey in Adey & Lebednik (1967, p. 84); depicted in Printz (1929, pl. 43, figs 1–3, as Archaeolithothamnion) and in Townsend et al. (1994, fig. 1A); additional data provided by Woelkerling (1993, pp. 80–81).

Selected specimens: Jeannies Lookout, Rottnest I., W. Aust., 1–3 m deep on dead shell (Woelkerling, 12.ii.1978; LTB, 10624). Observatory Point, Esperance, W. Aust., 2–3 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 5.ii.1984; LTB, 14160, 14171). Point Malcolm, SW of Israelite Bay, W. Aust., 0–2 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 7.ii.1984; LTB, 14200). 'Nine Mile Reef', 15 km W of Eyre, W. Aust., 2–3 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 1.ii.1984; LTB, 13948). Point Sinclair, S. Aust., 0–2 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 15.ii.1984; LTB, 14493). Pearson I., (on causeway between South and Middle I.), S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Specht, 17.ii.1960; AD, A24548 = LTB, 16693). Boston I. (reef near Homestead landing), Port Lincoln, S. Aust., upper sublittoral, shaded (Womersley, 14.v.1968; AD, A32622 = LTB, 16692). Nuyts Reef, S. Aust., 30 m deep (Shepherd, 26.iii.1980; AD, A52210 = LTB, 16696). Port Willunga, S. Aust., 5 m deep (P. Gordon, 21.iii.1 964; AD, A27685). Aldinga Beach, S. Aust. (Woelkerling, 3.i.1977; LTB, 11402). The Bluff (W side of Yorke Pen.), S. Aust., 1–2 m deep (Womersley, 15.ii.1981; AD, A52003). Port Elliot, S. Aust., 3–4 m deep (Littler, 31.xii.1975; AD, A47022 = LTB, 14680). Cape Willoughby, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., 0–2 m deep (Campbell & Penrose, 6.iv.1988; LTB, 15595). Cape Jaffa (Margaret Brock Reef), S. Aust., 10 m deep (Lewis, 15.ii.I974; AD, A45023 = LTB, 13631). Beachport, S. Aust., 3–6 m deep (Campbell & Penrose, 26.ii.1988; LTB, 15683). Cape Northumberland, S. Aust., 0–1 m deep (Campbell & Penrose, 2.xii.1986; LTB, 15546; Harvey & Mascini, 29.xi.1993; LTB, 16705; Harvey & Daume, 27.i.1994; LTB, 17280 and Woelkerling, 6.i.1977; LTB, 11401). Koonya Beach, Mornington Pen., Vic., rock pool (Townsend, 9.vii.1978; LTB, 17303 and 21.iv.1979; LTB, 17313). Sorrento (Back Beach), Vic., 0–1 m deep (Townsend, 11.vi.1978; LTB, 17314). Bowen I., Jervis Bay, N.S.W., 0–10 m deep (Townsend, 28.vii.1979; LTB, 17315).

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

Distribution: Rottnest I., W. Aust., to Bowen I., Jervis Bay, N.S.W. The species has not been reported from Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: Notes on other taxa reported from southern Australia

Townsend et al. (1995) provide information on 3 additional species that at some stage were ascribed to Sporolithon or Archaeolithothamnion and reported from southern Australia. One (Sporolithon erythraeum) involves an incorrect record; one (Archaeolithothamnion australasicum) involves a species of uncertain status; and one (A. mirabile) involves a heterotypic synonym of Lithothamnion muelleri, the type species of Lithothamnion.

Sporolithon durum occurs in intertidal reef pools and subtidally to depths of 30 m attached to rock or unattached and free-living as rhodoliths. At some localities, populations of rhodoliths are abundant and occur intermixed with attached thalli. Male and female carposporangial thalli appear uncommon but can occur intermixed with tetrasporangial thalli, and several collections contain rhodoliths composed of male and tetrasporangial thalli. Because tetrasporangial son are shed, most populations contain a high proportion of sterile thalli throughout the year.


ADEY, W.H. & LEBEDNIK, P.A. (1967). Catalog of the Foslie Herbarium. (Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab Museet: Trondheim, Norway.)

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

DAWSON, E.Y. (1960a). New records of marine algae from Pacific Mexico and Central America. Pacif. Nat. 1(20), 31–52.

DE TONI, G.B. (1924). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 6. Florideae. (Padua.)

FOSLIE, M. (1907a). Algologiske notiser. III. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1906(8), 1–34.

JOHNSON, J.H. (1963). The algal genus Archaeolithothamnion and its fossil representatives. J. Paleont. 37, 175–211, pls 25–30.

PRINTZ, H. (1929). M. Foslie — &lsquot;Contributions to a Monograph of the Lithothamnia&rsquot;. K. Norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. Museet, Trondhjem. 60 pp. 75 Plates.

TOWNSEND, R.A., CHAMBERLAIN, Y.M. & KEATS, D.W. (1994). Heydrichia woelkerlingii gen. et sp. nov., a newly discovered non-geniculate red alga (Corallinales, Rhodophyta) from Cape province, South Africa. Phycologia 33, 177–186.

TOWNSEND, R.A., WOELKERLING, W.J., HARVEY, A.S. & BOROWITZKA, M. (1995). An account of the red algal genus Sporolithon (Sporolithaceae, Corallinales) in southern Australia. Aust. Syst. Bot. 8, 85–121.

WOELKERLING, Wm.J. (1988). The Coralline Red Algae. [British Museum (N.H.): London.]

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 63C, F, 65, 66.

Figure 63 image

Figure 63   enlarge

Fig. 63. Cell morphology and anatomy in non-geniculate Corallinales (A, LTB, 12787; B, LTB, 15249; C, LTB, 14171; D, LTB, 15688; E, TRH, Howe no. 199; F, LTB, 14493; G, LTB, 15578). A. Section of Phymatolithon masonianum showing compressed epithallial cells (arrowheads) and vegetative initials (arrows) that are shorter than the cells immediately subtending them. B. Section of Mesophyllum printzianum showing rounded epithallial cells (arrowheads) and vegetative initials (arrows) that are as long as or longer than the cells immediately subtending them. C. Section of Sporolithon durum showing epithallial cells (arrow heads) with flared outer walls D. Palisade cells of contiguous filaments of Metamastophora flabellata showing cell-fusions (F). E. Columnar cells of Lithophyllum frondosum showing primary (arrow - p) and secondary (arrow - s) pit connections. F. Fracture of Sporolithon durum showing fusions (F) between cells of contiguous filaments. G. Fracture of Lithophyllum corallinae showing pit connections in surface (arrowhead) and sectional (arrow) views.

Figure 65 image

Figure 65   enlarge

Fig. 65. Sporolithon durum (A, LTB, 14493; B, LTB, 15546; C, LTB, 14200; D, LTB, 11402; E, LTB, 16705). A. Encrusting to fruticose thallus attached to rock. B. Encrusting (lower right), lumpy (top) and fruticose (lower left) thalli forming rhodoliths. C. Portion of a large fruticose thallus. D. Surface view of tetrasporangial sori. E. Section of part of a tetrasporangial sorus with tetrasporangia containing cruciately arranged spores (S) and empty calcified compartments.

Figure 66 image

Figure 66   enlarge

Fig. 66. Sporolithon durum (A, LTB, 14493; B, LTB, 15595; C, LTB, 15683; D, LTB, 17280). A. Fracture of a sorus showing calcified compartments in surface view. B. Section of female-carposporangial conceptacle with mature carpogonial filaments. C. Section of female-carposporangial conceptacle with mature carposporophyte. D. Section of male conceptacle with mature, branched spermatangial filaments arising from chamber floor, walls and roof.

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