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Anotrichium tenue (C. Agardh) Nägeli var. thyrsigerum (Thwaites ex Harvey) Kim & Lee 1991: 19.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Order Ceramiales – Family Ceramiaceae – Tribe Griffithsieae

Selected citations: Lee 1992:159.


Callithamnion thyrsigerum Thwaites ex Harvey 1855a: 559; 1863, synop.: Iv.

Griffithsia thyrsigera (Thwaites ex Harvey) Grunow 1874: 30. Askenasy 1888: 36, pl. 9 figs 1, 4. J. Agardh 1876: 65. De Toni 1903: 1286. Lucas 1909: 48. Sonder 1881: 11.

Anotrichium tenue sensu Baldock 1976: 556, figs 59–64, 90.

Anotrichium tenue sensu law Abbott & Norris 1993: 460. Huisman et al. 1990: 96. Huisman & Walker 1990: 418. Kendrick et al. 1990: 48, 51. Kendrick et al. 1988: table 1. Millar 1990: 407, fig. 49A–D. Millar & Kraft 1993: 35. Norris & Aken 1985: 60, figs 19–21, Table 1. Stegenga 1985a:146, figs 6–10, 14, 15.

Griffithsia tenuis sensu lato C. Agardh 1828: 131 (as `Griffitsia'). J.Agardh 1876: 70. Abbott 1946: 441, pl. 3 figs 1–7. Børgesen 1920: 462; 1945: 17. Boudouresque & Coppejans 1982: 46, pl. 2. Collins & Hervey 1917: 135, pl. 6 figs 38, 39. Dawson 1954: 460. De Toni 1903: 1285. Joly 1956: 25. Okamura 1933: 2, pl. 302 figs 1–6. Tseng 1942: 106, fig. 1. Womersley 1958: 157.

Thallus (Fig. 157A) dark red, in dense or loose tufts, 1–5 cm high, with procumbent filaments producing erect, subsecund branches adventitiously from the lower ends of cells. Attachment by simple filamentous rhizoids opposite erect filaments (Fig. 158D) or alternate with them, and often ending in much-branched haptera (Fig. 158B); on seagrasses and larger algae, epilithic or as a short turf mixed with sand. Structure. Cells near the thallus apex urceolate to short-cylindrical (Fig. 158A, C), 60–100 µm in diameter and L/D 0.8–0.9, in mid thallus elongate-cylindrical, 160–230 µm in diameter and L/D 2–5 (–9) and in the prostrate filaments cylindrical, 180–290 µm in diameter and L/D 1.5–2.5; synchronic hair-like laterals 8–16, arising as 1–2 whorls of papillose protrusions (Fig. 158A) from sub-apical cells, and dividing 1–3 times di-polychotomously, greatly elongating and forming distinctive masses of extremely narrow branches (Fig. 158C) with basal cells 10–20 µm in diameter and L/D 12–14, persisting up to 7 axial cells from the apex, but eventually caducous.

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious. Female axes 3-celled, subapical, displaced laterally by the continued growth of the vegetative apical cell (Fig. 158A), not associated with synchronic hair-like laterals; procarp systems subapical, each with a sterile lateral cell abaxially and an adaxial supporting cell bearing a sterile cell apically and a recurved, 4-celled carpogonial branch laterally; hypogenous cell enlarging, becoming pyriform at time of fertilisation, and producing a whorl of 12–13 synchronic, single-celled involucral branches incurved about the developing gonimoblast (Fig 158B); post-fertilisation fusion cell columnar, bearing 1–3 gonimolobes terminally, most cells of which form globose carposporangia,. 32–45 µm in diameter. Spermatangia borne in whorls of 4–8 pedicellate heads, produced synchronously from upper shoulders of cells near the thallus apex, within whorls of synchronic, hair-like laterals (Fig. 158C) which are readily lost as the heads enlarge; each spermatangial head with a 2 (–4) celled fertile axis, and a basal cell elongating to become a clavate pedicel 88–120 in diameter and L/D 1.5–2, extending on its abaxial side so that the head is displaced to a slightly subterminal and adaxial position; mature heads globose-ovoid, or lobed if the axial cells elongate, 130–180 µm in diameter, produced from several polychotomous divisions of 4 periaxial cells on each of the axial cells.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 158E, F) single on whorls of 8–10 (–14) clavate pedicels 75–123 µm in diameter and L/D 1.5– 2, produced synchronously from the distal shoulders of cells towards the apex of axes, opposite 1–2 whorls of synchronic, hair-like laterals; globose, 65–105 µm in diameter, initially terminal on pedicels but, characteristically for this variety, displaced to a subterminal and adaxial position by the extension of the pedicel abaxially, tetrahedrally divided.

Type of A. tenue from Venice, Italy (Herb. Agardh, LD, 19891); lectotype of var. thyrsigerum from Rottnest I., W. Aust., (Herb Harvey, TCD, 533A); syntypes King George Sound (533B), Cape Riche (533C ), Newcastle, N.S.W.(533M).

Selected specimens: Crinolin Point, Coffin Bay, S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Womersley, 5.xii.1975; AD, A46703-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 1506). Pondalowie Bay, S. Aust., upper eulittoral in sand (Baldock, 14.iv.1963; AD, A26364). Tiparra Reef, S. Aust., on Amphibolis antarctica, 5 m deep (Shepherd, 2.iv.1971; AD, A39034). St Kilda, S. Aust., on Posidonia, 1 m deep (Johnson, 23.iii.1973; AD, A43382). Coobowie, S. Aust., on Heterozostera, upper sublittoral (Womersley, 5.ii.1969; AD, A33609). Aldinga, S. Aust., on Amphibolis, in reef pools (Womersley 6.x.1974; AD, A45968 -"Marine Algae of southern Australia"

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

Distribution: Widely distributed in temperate and mixed temperate-tropic waters of southern Africa, the Indian Ocean, southern and eastern Australia, and Hawaii, in the lower eulittoral to upper sublittoral.

In southern Australia, Rottnest I., W. Aust. (Harvey) to Newport, N.S.W., apparently absent in the colder waters of Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: No. 150a). Newport, N.S.W., on Valoniopsis, lower eulittoral (Womersley, 30.v.1950; AD, A13066). Watson Bay, N.S.W., on Sargassum, upper sublittoral-lower eulittoral (Womersley, 27.xii.1962; AD, A26413).

Anotrichium tenue is a distinctive species, unique in that branches arise from lower ends of cells, and whorls of synchronic, hair-like laterals are prominent near thallus apices. Baldock (1976, pp. 557–9) commented on the slightly subterminal and adaxial position of tetrasporangia (and spermatangial heads) on pedicels, in specimens from southern Australia assigned to A. tenue.

Boudouresque & Coppejans (1982, p.51) separated Mediterranean plants (as Griffithsia tenuis) from those of the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific, largely on the basis of 2–8 tetrasporangia per whorl, the terminal position of tetrasporangia on pedicels, and the 1–3 spermatangial heads which were lobed rather than globose-ovoid. On similar grounds Cormaci et al. (1994, p. 635) circumscribed A. tenue to include populations with up to 8 tetrasporangia per whorl, inserted terminally on pedicels, and reinstated A. secundum (Harvey ex J. Agardh)Furnari, for plants with 8 to 50 tetrasporangia per whorl inserted subterminally and adaxially on pedicels. However, Norris, & Aken (1985 p. 60) found in S. African specimens from Natal, a bridging of all important characteristics used by Boudouresque & Coppejans 1982, and concluded that only one taxon (Anotrichium tenue) was justified, and this appears to be the case for Australian specimens, although subsequently in Bucher & Norris (1995, p. 8) A. tenue has been confined to populations with terminal tetrasporangia.

Kim & Lee (1991 p. 19) considered the species to include three varieties: var. tenue, with Mediterranean-type tetrasporangial and spermatangial characteristics, but now known to be more widely distributed; var. secundum, with 30–40 tetrasporangia per whorl, subterminal on pedicels, up to 16 spermatangial heads per whorl, and vegetative cells with larger diameters; and var. thyrsigerum intermediate in morphology with 8–15 tetrasporangia per whorl, subterminal and adaxial on pedicels, 4–6 spermatangial heads per whorl and vegetative cells intermediate in diameter.

The range of characteristics found in Australian collections supports this concept of a single species with varieties.

Silva et al. (1996, pp. 376–7) have documented the considerable taxonomic tangles of the complex.

It appears that in Australia var. tenue is restricted to tropical regions, and var. thyrsigerum, is found throughout southern temperate regions excluding, possibly, Tasmania; var secundum has not been recorded. However, without microscopic preparations of tetrasporangial (or spermatangial) material, diagnoses cannot be validated.


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BALDOCK, R.N. (1976). The Griffithsieae group of the Ceramiaceae (Rhodophyta) and its southern Australian representatives. Aust. J. Bot. 24, 509–593.

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LEE, I.K. (1992). A short note on Anotrichium tenue (C. Ag.) Naegeli var. thyrsigerum (Thwaites ex Harvey) Kim & Lee. Korean J. Phycol. 7, 159.

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SONDER, O.W. (1881). In Mueller, F., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae. Supplementum ad volumen undecinum: Algae Australianae hactenus cognitae, pp. 1–42, 105–107. (Melbourne.)

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

Author: R. N. Baldock

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (24 December, 1998)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIIC. Ceramiales – Ceramiaceae, Dasyaceae
©State Herbarium of South Australia, Government of South Australia

Illustrations in Womersley Part IIIA, 1998: FIGS 157A, 158 A–F.

Figure 157 image

Figure 157   enlarge

Fig. 157. A. Anotrichium tenue var. thyrsigerum (AD, A26364). Habit. B, C. Anotrichium towinna (AD, A28222). B. Habit. C. Detail of main axes and whorls of laterals with divergent branches. D, E. Anotrichium subtile (AD, A32281). D. Habit. E. Spermatangial head.

Figure 158 image

Figure 158   enlarge

Fig. 158. Anotrichium tenue var. thyrsigerum (A–D, AD, A39034; E, F, AD, A26364). A. Procarp (left) and detail of the vegetative axis (right). B. Mature carposporophyte. C. Apex of a male plant, with a spermatangial head shown in section view. D. Detail of branching. E. Whorls of pedicel late tetrasporangia in various stages of development. F. Mature tetrasporangium. (All as in Baldock 1976, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

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