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Polysiphonia sertularioides (Grateloup) J. Agardh 1863: 969.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Family Rhodomelaceae – Tribe Polysiphonieae

Selected citations: Adams 1994: 319. De Toni 1903: 870; 1924: 390. Falkenberg 1901: 122, pl. 1 figs 1–16. Funk 1955: 134, p1. 23 figs 7, 8. Huisman & Walker 1990: 440. Huisman et al. 1990: 98. Kendrick et al. 1990: 52. Lauret 1967: 350, pls 2, 3 figs 1, 2. Lewis 1984: 65. Millar & Kraft 1993: 58. Shepherd & Womersley 1981: 367. Silva et al. 1996: 545. Womersley 1979: 478, fig. 5A–D.


Ceramium sertularioides Grateloup 1806: (unnumbered page), fig. IV.

Polysiphonia havanensis sensu Harvey 1855a: 539; 1863, synop.: xx. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 269. Sonder 1880: 34 (in part). Tate 1882a: 23. [NON P. havanensis Montagne]

? Polysiphonia macrarthra Zanardini 1874: 490. Cribb 1954a: 25, 37. De Toni 1903: 955. Guiler 1952: 103. Lucas 1909: 41; 1913: 59; 1929a: 21. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 271.

? Polysiphonia flaccidissima Hollenberg 1942a: 783, fig. 8; 1961: 351, pl. 2 fig. 2; 1968a: 63, figs 2A, 11. Abbott 1999: 414, fig. 121A, B. Abbott & Hollenberg 1976: 688, figs 634, 635.

Polysiphonia flaccidissima var. smithii Hollenberg. Cribb 1956b: 134, pl. 4 fig. 5.

Thallus (Fig. 81A) dark red-brown, 2–8 (–14) cm high, usually in dense, soft and somewhat gelatinous tufts or masses, with a tangle of prostrate filaments producing very numerous erect, slender, fastigiate, much-divided branches. Attachment from prostrate filaments; epilithic, occasionally epiphytic. Structure. Prostrate filaments 100–130 (–250) µm in diameter with segments L/D 1–2, attached by scattered unicellular rhizoids with digitate haptera, cut off from the proximal end of pericentral cells. Erect branches (Fig. 81B, D) 70–150 (–200) µm in diameter with segments L/D (0.8–) 1–3 (–4), occasionally extending to L/D up to 12 in mid and lower parts of long branches, decreasing gradually to 25–50 µm in diameter and segments L/D 0.5–1.5 shortly below the apices; apices straight, with fairly prominent apical cells and usually profuse trichoblasts; lateral branches arising close to apices from the basal cell of a trichoblast (Fig. 81D) which remains simple or once furcate; cicatrigenous branches occasionally arise from lower parts. Pericentral cells 4, elongate throughout the thallus, ecorticate throughout; trichoblasts (or scar cells) formed on every segment with a divergence of 1/4, relatively slender, (1–) 2–3 (–4) times furcate. Rhodoplasts discoid, scattered or in chains.

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious. Carposporophytes with a slight basal fusion cell and short gonimoblast with pyriform to clavate terminal carposporangia 25–40 µm in diameter. Cystocarps (Fig. 81B) stalked, subspherical to slightly urceolate, 150–300 µm in diameter; pericarp ostiolate, 2 cells thick, outer cells elongate, L/D 1.5–2 when mature. Spermatangial branches (Fig. 81C) developing as one branch of a trichoblast, cylindrical and tapering slightly, 120–250 µm long and 30–60 µm in diameter, without a sterile apical cell when mature.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 81D) forming regular, slightly spiral to almost straight, prominent series in upper branches, occasionally in isolated rows of 3–6, when in laterals with the lower few segments sterile and narrower, often extending below a branch, slightly to considerably but evenly swelling the branch with the mature sporangia occupying most of the branch width, subspherical to ovoid, 35–65 µm in diameter, tetrahedrally (often subcruciately) divided.

Type from Cette, Golfe du Lion, France; location unknown.

Selected specimens: Rottnest I., W. Aust., uppermost sublittoral in sand (Woelkerling, 10.xi.1968; AD, A33236). Cape Le Grand, Esperance, W. Aust., lower eulittoral (Woelkerling, 28.i.1978; AD, A49286). Point Sinclair, S. Aust., lower eulittoral (Womersley, 7.ii.1954; AD, A19580). Kellidie Bay entrance, Coffin Bay, S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Womersley, 22.viii.1967; AD, A31815). Ethel Bay, Yorke Pen., S. Aust., rear eulittoral pools (Womersley, 13.iv.1963; AD, A26347). Port Pirie, S. Aust., 9 m deep (Branden, 15.ix.1987; AD, A59326). Off St Kilda, S. Aust., 3 m deep (Womersley, 18.iii.1972; AD, A41531). Pennington Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., reef pool (Womersley, 16.i.1948; AD, A7029). Muston, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., on Halophila, 2–3 m deep (Womersley, 21.xi.1968; AD, A32925). Cape Lannes, S. Aust., rear reef pool (Womersley, 13.ii.1978; AD, A49155). Port Fairy, Vic., low eulittoral (Womersley, 24.i.1967; AD, A31185). Breakneck Point, Sisters Beach, N Tas., mid eulittoral ( Womersley, 16.x.1982; AD, A55568). Devonport, Tas., drift (Gordon, 18.i.1966; AD, A29995). Great Taylor Bay, Bruny I., Tas., on Thamnoclonium dichotomum, 4 m deep (Shepherd, 14.ii.1972; AD, A42025).

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

Distribution: Mediterranean, New Zealand.

In Australia, the Dampier Archipelago and from Rottnest I. and North Beach (Perth), W. Aust., along the southern coast to Western Port, Vic., (probably to Queensland) and around Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: Southern Australian specimens vary somewhat in robustness, filament diameter and segment length but agree in all the basic characteristics of P. sertularioides as described by the above authors. The southern Australian plants occur in similar ecological situations to P. sertularioides in the Mediterranean, usually just above or below low tide level on rough-water coasts.

This is probably a widely distributed species, for which J. Agardh (1863, p. 969) and De Toni (1903, p. 870) cite numerous synonyms. Also, no satisfactory differences are apparent between it and P. flaccidissima Hollenberg from the Pacific coast of North America and the tropical Pacific. The upper branches of P. sertularioides are similar to those of P. mollis, but whereas the former occurs as dense tufts with entangled bases, P. mollis has a single, erect, basal axis.

P. macracartha Zanardini is probably the same as P. sertularioides as judged from a photograph of the type; confirmation of this has not been possible since the type in Herb. Zanardini, Museo Civico, Venice has not been available on loan.


ABBOTT, I.A. & HOLLENBERG, G.J. (1976). Marine Algae of California. (Stanford Univ. Press: Stanford.)

ABBOTT, I.A. (1999). Marine Red Algae of the Hawaiian Islands. (Bishop Museum Press: Honolulu, Hawai'i.)

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

AGARDH, J.G. (1863). Species Genera et Ordines Algarum. Vol. 2, Part 3, pp. 787–1291. (Gleerup: Lund.)

CRIBB, A.B. (1954a). The algal vegetation of Port Arthur, Tasmania. Pap. Proc. R. Soc. Tas. 88, 1–44, Plates 1–10.

CRIBB, A.B. (1956b). Records of marine algae from south-eastern Queensland II. Polysiphonia and Lophosiphonia. Univ. Qld Pap. Dept Bot. 3(16), 131–147.

DE TONI, G.B. (1903). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 4. Florideae. Sect. 3. pp. 775–1521 + 1523–1525. (Padua.)

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

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HOLLENBERG, G.J. (1968a). An account of the species of Polysiphonia of the central and western Tropical Pacific Ocean. 1. Oligosiphonia. Pacif. Sci. 22, 56–98.

HUISMAN, J.M. & WALKER, D.I. (1990). A catalogue of the marine plants of Rottnest Island, Western Australia, with notes on their distribution and biogeography. Kingia 1, 349–459.

HUISMAN, J.M., KENDRICK, G.A., WALKER, D.I. & COUTÉ, A. (1990). The Marine Algae of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Research in Shark Bay. Report of the France-Australe Bicentenary Expedition Committee, pp. 89–100.

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LAURET, M. (1967). Morphologie, Phénologie, Répartition des Polysiphonia marins du littoral Languedocien. I. Section Oligosiphonia. Nat. Monspeliensia Sér. Bot. 18, 347–373, Plates 1–15.

LEWIS, J.A. (1984). Checklist and bibliography of benthic marine macroalgae recorded from northern Australia. I. Rhodophyta. Dept. Defence, Materials Res. Lab., Melbourne, Vic. Report MRL-R-912.

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

LUCAS, A.H.S. (1909). Revised list of the Fucoideae and Florideae of Australia. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 34, 9–60.

LUCAS, A.H.S. (1913).—Notes on Australian marine algae. I. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 38, 49–60, Plates 1–5.

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SHEPHERD, S.A. & WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1981). The algal and seagrass ecology of Waterloo Bay, South Australia. Aquat. Bot. 11, 305–371.

SILVA, P.C., BASSON, P.W. & MOE, R.L. (1996). Catalogue of the Benthic Marine Algae of the Indian Ocean. (Univ. California Press: Berkeley.)

SONDER, O.W. (1880). In Mueller, F., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae. Supplementum ad volumen undecinum: Algae Australianae hactenus cognitae, pp. 1–42, 105–107. (Melbourne.)

TATE, R. (1882a). A list of the charas, mosses, liverworts, lichens, fungs, and algals of extratropical South Australia. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 4, 5–24.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1979). Southern Australian species of Polysiphonia Greville (Rhodophyta). Aust. J. Bot. 27, 459–528.

ZANARDINI, J. (1874). Phyceae Australicae novae vel minus cognitae. Flora 57, 486–490, 497–505.

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

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (24 February, 2003)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIID. Ceramiales – Delesseriaceae, Sarcomeniaceae, Rhodomelaceae
Reproduced with permission from The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part IIID 2003, by H.B.S. Womersley. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia.

Illustration in Womersley Part IIIA, 2003: FIG. 81 A–D.

Figure 81 image

Figure 81   enlarge

Fig. 81. A–D. Polysiphonia sertularioides (A, AD, A41531; B–D, AD, A49286). A. Habit. B. Branches with cystocarps. C. Spermatangial branches. D. Tetrasporangiai branches. E–G. Polysiphonia perriniae (E, AD, A9004; F, G, AD, A64191). E. Habit. F. Cystocarps. G. Branches with tetrasporangia. (A, B, D, E as in Womersley 1979, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

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