Juvenile morphology of the large Antarctic canopy-forming brown alga, Desmarestia menziesii J. Agardh

Frithjof C Kuepper* (Corresponding Author), Charles D. Amsler, Simon Morley, Bruno de Reviers, Aurelia Reichardt, Lloyd S Peck, Akira F Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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For many types of seaweeds in Polar Regions, open questions remain about how their life cycle contributes to their overall adaptation to the extreme abiotic environment. This applies in particular to the major canopy-forming brown algae in much of the Antarctic Peninsula of the genus Desmarestia, which was investigated here. Diving surveys around Rothera Research Station (Adelaide Island, Antarctica) during December 2017–February 2018 revealed the widespread presence of a hitherto-unknown life form of Desmarestia sp. of a tender, feather-like morphology. Further studies explored whether this could be (1) a new, hitherto undescribed Desmarestia species (2) a new record for the region of a known Desmarestia species previously recorded elsewhere or (3) a so-far unknown life form of a species recorded for the region. Collections enabled the extraction of PCR-friendly DNA and sequencing of ITS1, which unambiguously showed that the samples belonged to Desmarestia menziesii, the only Desmarestia species presently recorded for the Adelaide Island/Marguerite Bay region. The presence of the juvenile morphology was subsequently confirmed throughout much of the natural range of D. menziesii during cruise-based diving surveys along the Western Antarctic Peninsula in 2019 and from collections at Anvers Island in 1989. Our collections thus constitute its juvenile morphology, which is not previously documented in the literature. The wider significance for the Polar seaweeds is discussed in the context of Taxonomy and Ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2097-2103
Number of pages7
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number11
Early online date22 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Open Access via Springer Compact Agreement.
We are grateful to the UK Natural Environment Research Council for funding to FCK (grants NE/D521522/1 and NE/J023094/1), in particular through the Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (Grant CASS-134, 2017) to FCK and LSP. Funding for cruise-based observations in 2019 was from US National Science Foundation award OPP-1744550 to CDA. We thank Kate Stanton, Teresa Murphy and Ben Robinson (British Antarctic Survey) for support with diving operations around Rothera in January–February 2018, and also Richard L. Moe (UC Berkeley) for locating specimens corresponding to the morphology described here in the UC collection. Special thanks are due to Charlie Bibby (Financial Times) for taking professional photographs of the unknown Desmarestia sp. in the aquarium of the Bonner Lab at Rothera (Fig. 2a). We would also like to thank Richard L. Moe (UC Berkeley) and Christian Wiencke (AWI Bremerhaven) for their very helpful reviews of this paper. Also, the MASTS pooling initiative (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland, funded by the Scottish Funding Council and contributing institutions; grant reference HR09011) is gratefully acknowledged for supporting FCK. This research contributes to the SCAR Ant-ERA research programme.


  • Adelaide Island
  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • Desmarestia chordalis
  • Desmarestia menziesii
  • Desmarestia rossii
  • ITS
  • Southern Ocean


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