Geographic variation in polyphenolic levels of Northeastern Pacific kelps and rockweeds
Brown algal polyphenolic compounds are secondary metabolites whose functions may include protecting plants from pathogens or damage by UV radiation, and deterring feeding by herbivores. We present here the first analysis of spatial variation (at scales from tens of meters to hundreds of kilometers) in concentration of these compounds in two orders of brown algae from the northeastern Pacific Ocean. In kelps (order Laminariales), variation among sites was significant in only 25% of species examined and was consistent within families (high in the Alariaceae and low in the Laminariaceae and Lessoniaceae). In rockweeds (order Fucales, family Fucaceae), site variation was high in three of four species examined. Both the proportion of high polyphenolic kelp species and the magnitude of spatial variation within species from both kelps and rockweeds were much higher than would have been predicted from previous studies in other regions. In one kelp (Laminaria groenlandica), significant differences between sites occurred at scales of only tens of meters. No latitudinal clines were observed. Differences in phenolic concentrations of kelps spanned nearly an order of magnitude in one species, Hedophyllum sessile. Phenolic levels were significantly higher in members of the Fucales than the Laminariales, but showed no significant differences between intertidal and subtidal species.
KeywordsRadiation Spatial Variation Secondary Metabolite Pacific Ocean Geographic Variation
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