Marine Biology

, Volume 122, Issue 4, pp 681–688

Temperature adaptation in strains of the amphi-equatorial green alga Urospora penicilliformis (Acrosiphoniales): biogeographical implications


  • B. Bischoff
    • Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research
  • C. Wiencke
    • Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research

DOI: 10.1007/BF00350690

Cite this article as:
Bischoff, B. & Wiencke, C. Marine Biology (1995) 122: 681. doi:10.1007/BF00350690


The temperature requirements for growth and the upper survival temperatures (UST's) of the amiphi-equatorial green alga Urospora penicilliformis collected from several localities within its distribution area between 1986 and 1991 were determined. Ecotypic variation, both with regard to growth ranges and optima and to survival temperatures, was demonstrated. In the polar strains of U. penicilliformis, temperature growth ranges were narrower and the growth optima and UST's were at lower temperatures compared to cold-temperate strains. In particular, the polar strains grew between 0 and 15°C with optimal growth at 0 or 5°C, whereas the cold-temperate isolates grew between 0 and (15) 20°C with almost equal growth rates or a growth optimum between 5 and 15°C. The Arctic strains survived 23 to 24°C, and the Antarctic isolate only 19°C, while the UST's of the cold-temperate isolates were between (24) 25 to 26°C. The data strongly indicate that a cold water history of ca. 3 million yr in the Arctic can be sufficient for changes in the temperature growth ranges and optima as well as for small changes of UST as shown in the Arctic populations of U. penicilliformis. For stronger reduction of upper survival temperatures, longer time periods are necessary as exemplified in the isolate from Antarctica, where low temperatures have existed for at least 14 million yr. The significantly lower UST of the Antarctic strain, points to an early contact of the alga with the cold water of the Antarctic region and may indicate an origin of U. penicilliformis in the Southern Hemisphere. The UST's of the cold-temperate isolates (24 to 26°C) would have allowed a migration across the equator during Pleistocene lowerings of the seawater temperatures in the tropics. Growth, however, would not have been possible during the passage across the equator due to the narrow temperature-growth window. The nature of the geographical boundaries and the control of seasonal development of U. penicilliformis by the temperature conditions in the various geographical regions are discussed in relation to the present local temperature regime.

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© Springer-Verlag 1995