We observed kelp gametophytes endophytic in the cell walls of 17 species of red algae from the San Juan Islands, Washington, USA. Host algae were collected primarily from three sites dominated by different kelp assemblages, including (1) a subtidal site dominated by Agarum fimbriatum Harvey, (2) a second subtidal site dominated by Nereocystis luetkeana (Mertens) Postels et Ruprecht, and (3) a floating dock on which the dominant kelp species were Alaria marginata Postels et Ruprecht, Laminaria groenlandica Rosenvinge, and Costaria costata (C. Agardh) Saunders. Most hosts were filamentous [e.g. Pleonosporium vancouverianum (J. Agardh) J. Agardh, Callithamnion acutum Kylin], or polysiphonous [e.g. Polysiphonia paniculata Montagne, Pterosiphonia dendroidea (Montagne) Falkenberg]; however, similar endophytes were also observed in membranous or bladed red algae [e.g. Membranoptera platyphylla (Setchell et Gardner) Kylin, Polyneura latissima (Harvey) Kylin]. Dozens to hundreds of separate kelp gametophytes were associated with single host thalli. In many cases, the gametophytes developed conspicuous oogonia raised above the thallus surface on characteristic stalks. Presumed zygotes developed through typical embryonic stages into juvenile sporophytes. We argue that the endophytic habit plays an important role in the biology of kelp gametophytes.
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