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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 332 - Feature article
Intertidal rock provides habitat for microscopic lifestages of kelp that develop into macroscopic sporophytes (inset). Photos: Caroline H. Fox & Robert J. J. Davey

Fox CH, Swanson AK


Nested PCR detection of microscopic life-stages of laminarian macroalgae and comparison with adult forms along intertidal height gradients


The inability to identify post-settlement microscopic lifestages of kelp (Laminariales) has hampered our understanding of kelp species and associated ecosystems. Fox & Swanson have developed a nested PCR technique for the identification of 2 kelp species living on natural intertidal rock substrates. The distributions of intertidal macroscopic and putative microscopic lifestages were monitored during summer months. Microscopic lifestages of Nereocystis luetkeana, which is predominantly subtidal as a macroscopic sporophyte, were detected throughout the intertidal zone. Hedophyllum sessile macroscopic sporophytes and microscopic lifestages shared a similar distribution in the mid intertidal zone. The nested PCR assay of spatial and temporal distributions of microscopic lifestages of macroalgae is valuable for marine conservation and ecology.


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