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

Synarthrophyton patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)Townsend 1979: 252, figs 1–18.

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

Selected citations: Adams 1994: 160, pl. 55, lower right. A. Harvey et al. 1994: 333, figs 1–24. May & Woelkerling 1988: 50, figs 1–40. Millar & Kraft 1993: 14.


Melobesia patena Hooker & Harvey in Harvey 1849: 111, pl. XL, lower left.

Mastophora patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)Kützing 1858: 47.

Lithophyllum patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)Rosanoff 1866: 88.

Lithothamnion patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)Heydrich 1897a: 413.

Lithothamnion lichenoides f. patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)Foslie 1898b: 7.

Lithothamnion lichenoides var. patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)De Toni et Forti 1923: 59.

Polyporolithon patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)Mason 1953: 317.

Mesophyllum patena (Hooker & Harvey in Harvey)Ricker 1987: 173.

Additional references involving these and other binomials, previous southern Australian records, misapplied names, and known heterotypic synonyms are listed in A. Harvey et al. 1994. May & Woelkerling 1988. And/or Townsend 1979.

Thallus normally dull pinkish, encrusting to discoid, warty or fruticose, mostly 2–65 mm across and 0.2–1.5 mm thick or tall, epigenous and partially or completely affixed by cell adhesion or by envelopment of host axes; protuberant branches simple or branched, mostly 1–4 mm in diameter and 2–4.5 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 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 3–25 µm in diameter and 6–50 µm long; epithallial cells 5–15 µm in diameter and 3–12 µm long, terminating most filaments at the thallus surface, with distal walls rounded or flattened but not flared; cell elongation occurring mainly within actively dividing subepithallial initials that are usually as long as or longer than their immediate inward derivatives; cells of adjacent filaments joined by cell-fusions although sometimes difficult to detect; secondary pit-connections, haustoria, and trichocytes unknown.

Reproduction: Vegetative reproduction unknown. Gametangia and carposporophytes produced in uniporate conceptacles; tetrasporangia produced in multiporate conceptacles. Report of bisporangia not confirmed.

Gametangial thalli monoecious or dioecious; carpogonia and spermatangia produced in separate conceptacles or rarely in the same conceptacle. Carpogonia terminating 2- or 3-celled filaments arising from the conceptacle chamber floor. Mature female-carposporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above surrounding thallus surface, 120–190 µm thick, composed of 15–30 layers of cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers 235–520 µm in diameter and 70–210 µm high. Carposporophytes apparently composed of a fusion cell (not always evident) and several-celled gonimoblast filaments bearing terminal carposporangia 40–80 µm in diameter. Both unbranched and branched spermatangial filaments present, arising from the floor, walls and roof of male (rarely bisexual) conceptacle chambers, mature male conceptacle roofs protruding above surrounding thallus surface, (30–) 80–90 µm thick, composed of (6–) 12–20 layers of cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers (85–) 180–300 µm in diameter and (15–) 55–95 µm high.

Tetrasporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above surrounding surface, not differentiated into a peripheral rim and a central sunken pore-plate, 3–8 cells thick above the chamber, pore canals lined by cells that are similar in size and shape to other roof cells, conceptacle chambers 260–560 µm in diameter and 120–210 µm high; tetrasporangia scattered across the conceptacle chamber floor, each mature sporangium 35–100 µm in diameter and 70–250 µm long, containing zonately arranged tetraspores and possessing an apical plug that blocks a roof pore prior to spore release.

Type from Flat Point (near Castlepoint), New Zealand; lectotype in TCD (Colenso 1331); designated and depicted by Chapman & Parkinson (1974, pl. 72); also depicted in May & Woelkerling (1988, p. 53, fig. 1) and Ricker (1987, fig. 73d).

Selected specimens: Cape Vlaming, Rottnest I., W. Aust., reef edge on Laurencia (Woelkerling, 8.ii.I978; LTB, 10961). Eyre (Wine Mile Reef'), W. Aust., 2–3 m deep on holdfast of Ecklonia radiata (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 1.ii.1984; LTB, 13941). Foul Ground, 7.2 km S of Wedge I., S. Aust., 21–37 m deep on Ballia callitricha (Baldock, 4.i.1964; AD, A27196). Port Elliot, S. Aust. (Womersley, 9,ii.1975; AD, A46065 = LTB, 13745). Hansen Bay, Southwest R., Kangaroo I., S. Aust., upper sublittoral on Acrocarpia (Woelkerling, 21.ii.1979; LTB, 11625). Cape Buffon, S. Aust., 2 m deep on Ballia callitricha (Collings & Kildea, 27.ix.1992; AD, A62775 -"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 334). Cape Northumberland, S. Aust., reef edge on Gelidium (Campbell, Penrose & Woelkerling, 2.xii.1986; LTB, 15538). Peterborough, Vic., drift on Ballia callitricha (Woelkerling, 10.iii.1993; LTB, 16597). Warrnambool, Vic., drift on Camontagnea oxyclada (Womersley, 13.iv.1959; AD, A22931). Anglesea (Ingoldsby Reef), Vic., 6 m deep on Ballia callitricha (May, 9.vi.1985; LTB, 14766). Flinders, Vic., reef pools on Amphibolis (Woelkerling, 19.xi.1983; LTB, 13892). Little Squally Cove, Deal I., Bass Strait, Tas., 21 m deep on Ballia callitricha (Houridis, 14.iii.1993; AD, A63277). Ninepin Point, D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Tas., 4–6 m deep on Haliptilon (Platt, 18.ii.1983; LTB, 12782). N of Cape Surville, Forestier Pen., Tas., 8–12 m deep (Gowlett-Holmes, 5.v.1995; AD, A64409). Lady Bay, Southport, Tas., drift on Ballia callitricha (Wollaston & Mitchell, 27.ii.1964; AD, A27537). Long Reef, N.S.W., on Ballia callitricha (May, 3.xii.1944; NSW, A3540).

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

Distribution: New Zealand; southern Africa; the Chatham Islands; various subantarctic islands (A. Harvey et al, 1994).

In Australia, Cape Vlaming, Rottnest I., W. Aust., to Long Reef, N.S.W., and around Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: Synarthrophyton patena occurs epiphytically on a variety of green, brown and red algae, and on seagrasses, tunicates, molluscs and sponges in southern Australia. It has been found in intertidal pools and subtidally to depths of 37 m. Populations involving many individuals often occur on a single host thallus, and both gametangial and tetrasporangial specimens often are present in the same collection. Thalli of Synarthrophyton patena growing on Ballia or Camontagnea commonly form distinctive, largely detached, discoid thalli that can be recognised in the field from external features; no other known southern Australian non-geniculate coralline found on Ballia has this growth form. Tetrasporangial conceptacle anatomy is very similar in Synarthrophyton patena and Mesophyllum engelhartii, and certain tetrasporangial thalli of the two species could be confused if viewed in isolation (A. Harvey et al. 1994, p. 341). Male thalli, however, can easily be told apart as spermatangial branches are both branched and unbranched in Synarthrophyton patena but only unbranched in Mesophyllum engelhartii.


ADAMS, N.M. (1994). Seaweeds of New Zealand. (Cant. Univ. Press: Christchurch.)

CHAPMAN, V.J. & PARKINSON, P.G. (1974). The marine algae of New Zealand. Part III: Rhodophyceae. Issue 3: Cryptonemiales, pp. 155–278, Plates 51–94. (Cramer: Germany.)

DE TONI, G.B. & FORTI, A. (1923). Alghe di Australia, Tasmania e Nouva Zelanda. Mem. R. Inst. Veneto Sci., Lett. Arti 29, 1–183, Plates 1–10.

FOSLIE, M. (1898b). List of species of the lithothamnia. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1898(3), 1–11.

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

HEYDRICH, F. (1897a). Corallinaceae, inbesondere Melobesieae. Ber. dt. bot. Ges. 15, 34–71, Plate 3.

KÜTZING, F.T. (1858). Tabulae Phycologicae. Vol. 8. (Nordhausen.)

MASON, L.R. (1953). The crustaceous coralline algae of the Pacific Coast of the United States, Canada and Alaska. Univ. Calif. Pubis Bot. 26, 313–390, Plates 27–46.

MAY, D.I. & WOELKERLING, W.J. (1988). Studies on the genus Synarthrophyton (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta) and its type species, S. patena (J.D. Hooker et W.H. Harvey) Townsend. Phycologia 26, 50–71.

MILLAR, A.J.K. & KRAFT, G.T. (1993). Catalogue of Marine and Freshwater Red Algae (Rhodophyta) of New South Wales, including Lord Howe Island, South-western Pacific. Aust. Syst. Bot. 6, 1–90.

RICKER, R.W. (1987). Taxonomy and biogeography of Macquarie Island Seaweeds. [British Museum (N.H.): London.]

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

TOWNSEND, R.A. (1979). Synarthrophyton, a new genus of Corallinaceae (Cryptonemiales, Rhodophyta) from the southern Hemisphere. J. Phycol. 15, 251–259.

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: PLATE 3 fig. 3; FIGS 90, 91.

Plate 3 image

Plate 3   enlarge

figure 1. Mastophoropsis canaliculata (AD, 64421). Photograph K.L. Gowlett-Holmes.
figure 2. Phymatolithon masonianum (AD, A64476). Photograph - K.L.Gowlett-Holmes.
figure 3. Synarthrophyton patena (AD, A64409). Photograph - K.L.Gowlett-Holmes.
figure 4. Phymatolithon repandum (LTB, 15836). Photograph - W.J. Woelkerling.

Figure 90 image

Figure 90   enlarge

Fig. 90. Synarthrophyton patena (A, LTB, 16597; B, LTB, 13941; C, LTB, 11625; D, LTB, 13892; E, LTB, 12782; F, LTB, 15538). A. Discoid thalli on Ballia. B. Encrusting thallus on holdfast of Ecklonia. C. Encrusting to fruticose thalli enveloping axes of Acrocarpia. D. Encrusting thalli affixed to stems of Amphibolis. E. Section of mature tetrasporangial conceptacle. F. Portion of tetrasporangial conceptacle roof with pore canal and bordering filaments.

Figure 91 image

Figure 91   enlarge

Fig. 91. Synarthrophyton patena (A, LTB, 14766; B, C, LTB, 15538). A. Section of female-carposporangial conceptacle with mature carpogonial filaments with (arrows) and without (arrowheads) trichogynes. B. Section of female-carposporangial conceptacle with mature carposporophyte showing sections of 'discontinuous' fusion cell (arrows). C. Section of male conceptacle with mature, branched spermatangial filaments arising from chamber floor and mostly unbranched spermatangial filaments arising from chamber 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