BIOTIC Species Information for Saccharina latissima
Researched byNicola White and Charlotte Marshall Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byDr Joanna Jones
General Biology
Growth formFoliose
Feeding methodPhotoautotroph
Mobility/MovementSee additional information
Permanent attachment
Environmental positionEpilithic
See additional information
Typical food typesNo text entered HabitSee additional information
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityIntermediate SizeLarge(>50cm)
Height Growth Rate1.1 cm/day
Adult dispersal potentialNot relevant DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationGrowth
Laminaria saccharina grows fastest from late winter to spring at a rate of about 1.1 cm/day although growth rates of up to 4.87 cm/day have been recorded. Growth then declines from June onwards and may cease in late summer. The reduction in summer growth rate is thought to be due to nitrate limitation (Sjøtun, 1993). The length:width ratio of newly grown lamina tissue varies throughout the year and is highest during the periods of fast growth, that is, December to June (Sjøtun, 1993). By shifting effort towards growth in width in late summer, it is possible that the plant can maximize the lamina area for autumn and winter and therefore increase the amount of stored carbon available for plants at this time (Sjøtun, 1993).

The seasonal growth pattern results in annual growth rings or lines in the stipe, which can be used to age the plant. The species may occur as an annual opportunist.

The shape of the frond can vary with environmental conditions. Gerard (1987) found that plants subjected to constant longitudinal tension (as would be expected in higher water flow rates) may become morphologically enhanced to a more streamlined shape. In laboratory simulations, he found that plants subjected to longitudinal stress had significantly narrower blades and a significantly higher rate of cell elongation at the end of the six week experiment, compared to those plants that had not experienced the same stress. Laminaria saccharina plants from wave exposed sites have short, solid stipes and short, narrow and thick tissued fronds with closely wrinkled blades (Lüning, 1990). In contrast, plants from sheltered sites have a broad thin blade with an undulate surface (Lüning, 1990).

The majority of Laminaria saccharina plants are permanently attached to the substratum. This may include bedrock and large boulders down to pebbles. Even sand grains can provide an attachment sufficient enough to allow the young sporophytes to segment and develop into new plants (Burrows, 1958). However, Burrows (1958) also described large populations of 'loose lying' Laminaria saccharina in Port Erin Bay, Isle of Man, which showed no signs of ever having been attached. She concluded that, apart from at the earliest stages of sporophyte development, an attachment to the substratum is not essential for the growth of the plant.

Biology References
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