Comprehensive Description

Description of Spirogyra

Spirogyra is a filamentous green algae that can often form flimsy green aggregates in freshwater ponds. It is distinguished by having unbranched filaments and with chloroplasts forming a spiral ribbon just under the cell surface. This gives a coiled or twisted texture to the cells, and it is from this appearance that the organism gets its name (Greek speira, "coil" + gyros, "twisted") The cell wall is characteristically straight and parallel-sided. The single chloroplast usually almost fills the length of the cell. There are several pyrenoids which are starch-containing bodies and can be revealed by staining with Lugol's iodine. Sexual reproduction involves neighboring filaments that send out processes which fuse into tubes. The contents of one cell pass through the conjugation tube into a partner cell and go through process that lead to the formation of a reasonably resistant zygospore. In many species, adjoining cells in the two filaments form conjugation tubes at the same time, giving the appearance of a ladder. There was a band called Spirogyra and a quiet but exuberant botanical garden in Costa Rica where one may enjoy a living collection of plants, butterflies and hummingbirds.
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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Chytridium lagenaria parasitises zygospore of Spirogyra

Foodplant / parasite
Chytridium sphaerocarpum parasitises Spirogyra

Foodplant / parasite
Entophlyctis confervae-glomeratae parasitises Spirogyra

Foodplant / parasite
Micromycopsis zygogonii parasitises Spirogyra

Foodplant / parasite
Phlyctochytrium biporosum parasitises Spirogyra

Foodplant / parasite
Phlyctochytrium laterale parasitises Spirogyra

Foodplant / feeds on
Phlyctochytrium planicorne feeds on Spirogyra

Foodplant / saprobe
Rhizidium variabile is saprobic on dead Spirogyra

Foodplant / saprobe
Rhizophydium chaetiferum is saprobic on Spirogyra

Foodplant / feeds on
Rhizophydium gibbosum feeds on Spirogyra

Foodplant / parasite
Rhizophydium simplex parasitises Spirogyra

Foodplant / parasite
Zygorhizidium willei parasitises live Spirogyra


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Known predators

Spirogyra is prey of:
Gobio gobio
Sida crystallina
Crangonyx gracilis
Orthoclad Blue Black
Aphrophila noevaezelandiae
Hudsonema amabilis
Helicopsyche albescens

Based on studies in:
England, River Cam (River)
USA: Wisconsin, Little Rock Lake (Lake or pond)
New Zealand: Otago, Berwick, Meggatburn (River)
New Zealand: Otago, Blackrock, Lee catchment (River)
New Zealand: Otago, Dempster's Stream, Taieri River, 3 O'Clock catchment (River)
New Zealand: Otago, Stony, Sutton catchment (River)
New Zealand: Otago, Sutton Stream, Taieri River, Sutton catchment (River)
USA: Maine, Troy (River)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Martinez ND (1991) Artifacts or attributes? Effects of resolution on the Little Rock Lake food web. Ecol Monogr 61:367–392
  • P. H. T. Hartley, Food and feeding relationships in a community of fresh-water fishes, J. Anim. Ecol. 17(1):1-14, from p. 12 (1948).
  • Thompson, RM and Townsend CR. 2005. Energy availability, spatial heterogeneity and ecosystem size predict food-web structure in streams. OIKOS 108: 137-148.
  • Thompson, RM and Townsend, CR. 1999. The effect of seasonal variation on the community structure and food-web attributes of two streams: implications for food-web science. Oikos 87: 75-88.
  • Townsend, CR, Thompson, RM, McIntosh, AR, Kilroy, C, Edwards, ED, Scarsbrook, MR. 1998. Disturbance, resource supply and food-web architecture in streams. Ecology Letters 1:200-209.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:122
Specimens with Sequences:121
Specimens with Barcodes:121
Species With Barcodes:72
Public Records:121
Public Species:72
Public BINs:0
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Barcode data

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For other uses, see Spirogyra (disambiguation).

Spirogyra is a genus of filamentous charophyte green algae of the order Zygnematales, named for the helical or spiral arrangement of the chloroplasts that is diagnostic of the genus. It is commonly found in freshwater areas, and there are more than 400 species of Spirogyra in the world.[1] Spirogyra measures approximately 10 to 100μm in width and may stretch centimeters[clarification needed] long.

General characteristics[edit]

Spirogyra is very common in relatively clean eutrophic water, developing slimy filamentous green masses. In spring Spirogyra grows under water, but when there is enough sunlight and warmth they produce large amounts of oxygen, adhering as bubbles between the tangled filaments. The filamentous masses come to the surface and become visible as slimy green mats. Mougeotia and Zygnema are often found tangled together.


Spirogyra can reproduce both sexually and asexually. In vegetative reproduction, fragmentation takes place, and Spirogyra simply undergoes the intercalary mitosis to form new filaments.

Sexual Reproduction is of two types:

  1. Scalariform conjugation requires association of two different filaments lined side by side either partially or throughout their length. One cell each from opposite lined filaments emits tubular protuberances known as conjugation tubes, which elongate and fuse, to make a passage called the conjugation canal. The cytoplasm of the cell acting as the male travels through this tube and fuses with the female cytoplasm, and the gametes fuse to form a zygospore.
  2. In lateral conjugation, gametes are formed in a single filament. Two adjoining cells near the common transverse wall give out protuberances known as conjugation tubes, which further form the conjugation canal upon contact. The male cytoplasm migrates through the conjugation canal, fusing with the female. The rest of the process proceeds as in scalariform conjugation.

The essential difference is that scalariform conjugation occurs between two filaments and lateral conjugation occurs between two adjacent cells on the same filament.



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