Short-List 2014

Erasmo Macaya Horta (Universidad de Concepción, Chile): Yellow Pile

The image shows the brown alga Dictyota kunthii, a species with sub-antarctic distribution. The picture was taken at 2 m depth in Robinson Crusoe Island, Juan Fernández Archipelago, a remote and beautiful place situated 670 km off the coast of Chile.  In this image we can see D. kunthii (yellowish) surrounded mostly by the endemic brown alga Dictyota phlyctaenodes with its fantastic blue-greenish color due to iridescence. Some of the D. kunthii blades have the epiphyte red alga Fernandosiphonia unilateralis. Interestingly D. kunthii produces diterpene, a secondary metabolite known to deter feeding from mesograzers. The fronds of D. kunthii are about 20 centimetres long.  The image was taken with a Sony Cybershot DSC-W80 digital camera enclosed in a Sony MPK-WB marine pack.

Gordon Beakes (Newcastle University):  Algal galaxies

This picture, showing colonies of blue-green alga Gloeotrichia was taken from a lake sample from Malham Tarn, Yorkshire.  The radiating colonies of tapering trichomes taper into elongate hyaline regions, that are clearly revealed by the dark field optics employed.   The image was taken using an Olympus E620 single lens reflex camera attached to an Olympus BH microscope, with phase contrast optics, by means of the Olympus L-phototube adapter. The dark field optical effect was achieved by using phase ring that was not matched to the objective.

John Huisman (Murdoch University, Australia): Herposiphonia

This image is of a potentially new species of the red algal genus Herposiphonia, growing epiphytically on Amphiroa anceps. The genus has a precise, and unique, branching pattern wherein sequences of three determinate branches are separated by one indeterminate branch. The urn-like structures are cystocarps. The specimen was collected from Cape Peron (south of Perth, Western Australia) in June 2014 and photographed live using a Nikon SMZ800 stereo microscope, using darkfield illumination. Several images were taken at different focal planes and then stacked in Adobe Photoshop CS5. For scale, the frame width is 8 mm.

Contact: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, and Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia.

Gary Saunders (University of New Brunswick, Canada: Translucent Pipe Cleaner

This is a new species of red seaweed in the genus Trichogloea. This plant has a calcified central region, appearing like an internal skeleton, surrounded by thread-like covering filaments lending the longer terminal branches the appearance of translucent pipe cleaners!  The terminal branches are about three millimetres across.  
This image was captured at 17 metres depth, Norfolk Island (Australia), at a dive site called ‘Policeman’s Hat’ (named for the shape of the offshore rock at which we collected). Diving on Norfolk is most certainly one of the best kept secrets in the SCUBA community! (Taken with an Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 using the built-in flash and an Ikelite housing.)

Shinya Sato (Fukui Prefectural University, Japan): diatom fans

This specimen of the red alga Plocamium telfairiae (pink) along with several epiphytic diatoms (white), was freeze-dried for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in order to observe mucus structures of the diatoms.   Before examining the sample under the SEM I had a quick look using a stereo microscope to check that the drying procedure went well.  I was stunned to see these beautiful fan-shaped colonies of the diatom Climacosphenia moniligera on the Plocamium thallus.  The fan-shaped colonies of diatoms are about 150 micrometres in length

Alison Taylor & Ben Kramer (University of North Carolina, USA): Coccolithophore (Scyphosphaera apsteinii)

Scanning electron micrograph of the unicellular alga, Scyphosphaera apsteinii Lohmann 1902. This polymorphic coccolithophore is a member of the Zygodiscales, a group evolving approximately 50 Mya, and is one of the few known extant scyphosphaerids in today’s oceans. S. apsteinii produces flat ovoid calcium carbonate coccoliths known as muroliths and bulky, vase-shaped lopadoliths. The mechanism of intracellular production follows a similar pattern to that of better-studied coccolithophores such as Emiliania huxleyi, whereby coccoliths are constructed in an intracellular vesicle.  S. apsteinii secretes both muroliths and lopadoliths in a single exocytotic event through the plasma membrane and the outer layer of organic scales (not visible) upon which they remain attached. The mechanism of placement and attachment to form the outer coccosphere is not known. Specimen was coated with 10 nm platinum-palladium and image was acquired using a Phillips XL 30S FEG SEM in through-the-lens secondary electron detection mode, working distance 4.9 µm, 5 KeV beam and X 5500 magnification (width of specimen is ~ 20 µm). Image was processed in Photoshop to mask background. Credit Alison Taylor and Ben Kramer; University of North Carolina Wilmington Microscopy Facility.