Depth range based on 528 specimens in 19 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 84 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 23.77
  Temperature range (°C): 11.471 - 12.348
  Nitrate (umol/L): 4.729 - 7.121
  Salinity (PPS): 35.035 - 35.363
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.069 - 6.339
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.336 - 0.439
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.315 - 3.388

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 23.77

Temperature range (°C): 11.471 - 12.348

Nitrate (umol/L): 4.729 - 7.121

Salinity (PPS): 35.035 - 35.363

Oxygen (ml/l): 6.069 - 6.339

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.336 - 0.439

Silicate (umol/l): 2.315 - 3.388
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.


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Foodplant / open feeder
Patina pellucida forma pellucida grazes on frond of Fucus
Other: minor host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Trailia ascophylli parasitises Fucus
Remarks: Other: uncertain


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Known predators

Fucus (Ascophyllum, Fucus, other algae) is prey of:
Littorina saxatilis
Littorina littorea
Littorina obtusata

Based on studies in:
USA: Massachusetts, Cape Ann (Littoral, Rocky shore)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 278 (1947).
  • R. W. Dexter, The marine communities of a tidal inlet at Cape Ann, Massachusetts: a study in bio-ecology, Ecol. Monogr. 17:263-294, from p. 287 (1947).
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Protective coating prevents dehydration: sea-wracks

Sea-wracks prevent dehydration when exposed to air by coating themselves with a protective mucus.

  "Where the coast is not muddy but rocky, trees cannot survive. They would soon be smashed by pounding waves. The only tactic here is to be flexible and ride the thrusts of the waves rather than resist them. And that is what the sea-wracks do. They are algae. Those that live between the tides have to take precautions against being dried out during their twice daily exposure to the air and they do so by covering themselves with a coat of mucus. It is this that makes them so slippery under foot. Some species develop gas-filled bladders in their fronds so that, as the tide sweeps in and out, they rise and fall and remain close to the surface within reach of the all-important light." (Attenborough 1995:302)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:284
Specimens with Sequences:234
Specimens with Barcodes:159
Species With Barcodes:5
Public Records:196
Public Species:5
Public BINs:2
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


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Barcode data

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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


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Fucus is a genus of brown algae found in the intertidal zones of rocky seashores almost throughout the world.

Description and life cycle[edit]

The thallus is perennial with an irregular or disc-shaped holdfast or with haptera.[1] The erect portion of the thallus is dichotomous or subpinnately branched, flattened and with a distinct midrib. Gas-filled pneumatocysts (air-vesicles) are present in pairs in some species, one on either side of the midrib. The erect portion of the thallus bears cryptostomata and caecostomata (sterile surface cavities). The base of the thallus is stipe-like due to abrasion of the tissue lateral to the midrib and it is attached to the rock by a holdfast. The gametangia develop in conceptacles embedded in receptacles in the apices of the final branches. They may be monoecious or dioecious.[2]

These algae have a relatively simple life cycle and produce only one type of thallus which grows to a maximum size of 2 m. Fertile cavities, the conceptacles, containing the reproductive cells are immersed in the receptacles near the ends of the branches. After meiosis oogonia and antheridia are produced and released, fertilisation follows and the zygote develops directly into the diploid plant. It may be considered to be analogous to the life cycle of the flowering plant,[3][4] but in algae the oogonia are released and fertilised in the sea while in flowering plants the ovules are fertilised while attached to the parent plant and then released as a seed.

Distribution and ecology[edit]

Species of Fucus are recorded almost worldwide. They are dominant on the shores of the British Isles,[5] the northeastern coast of North America[6] and California.[3]

In the British Isles these larger brown algae occur on sheltered shores in fairly well defined zones along the shore from high-water mark to below low water mark. On the more exposed shores not all of these species can be found and on very exposed shores few, if any, occur. Pelvetia canaliculata forms a zone at the top of the shore. Just below this Fucus spiralis, Fucus vesiculosus and Fucus serratus and Laminaria form clear zones, one below the other, along the shore down to low water mark. On sheltered shores Ascophyllum nodosum usually forms a broad and dominating zone along the shore at the mid-littoral. On very exposed shores few if, any plants, of these species can be found. Other brown algae can be found at the low-littoral such as Himanthalia, Laminaria saxatilis and Alaria esculenta. Small green and red algae and animals occur, protected under these large brown algae.[7]


In Scotland and Norway, up until the mid 19th century, several seaweed species from Fucus and other genera were harvested, dried, burned to ash, and further processed to become "kelp", which was a type of soda ash that was less costly in Britain than the barilla imported from Spain. It has an alkali content of about 2.5%–5% that was mainly sodium carbonate (Na2CO3); alkali is essential to soapmaking, glassmaking, and other industries. The seaweed was also used as fertilizer for crop land in the same areas in which it was harvested.[8][Note 1] The purest barilla had a sodium carbonate concentration of about 30%.

In 2005, it was announced that bacteria grown on Fucus have the ability to attack and kill the MRSA superbacterium.[9]


Conceptacle of F. vesiculosus, with filaments protruding; Scale bar: 20 μm

This list of species of Fucus excludes names of uncertain status:[10][11]

* Species recorded around the coast of Britain.[5]

Fucus distichus[edit]

Main article: Fucus distichus

F. distichus is up to 10 cm long with a short stout cylindrical stipe, branching dichotomous, flat and with a mid-rib.[12] F. distichus subsp. edentatus was first described from Shetland by Börgesen in 1903. Powell found F. distichus subsp. anceps on the north coast of Caithness. It had also been recorded from: Orkney, Fair Isle, St Kilda and the Outer Hebrides in Scotland; in Ireland it had been recorded from Counties Clare, Donegal and Kerry.[13][14] Two subspecies of F. distichus (subsp. anceps and subsp. edentatus) have been described from the British Isles.[13]

Fucus distichus is the organism used as a model to study the development of cell polarity, since it forms an apolar zygote that can develop polarity given a varying number of gradients.

Fucus serratus[edit]

Main article: Fucus serratus

F. serratus, toothed wrack, is the most distinctive of all the Fucus species. It clearly shows a distinctive serrated edge to the frond not shown by the other species of the genus.[15]

Fucus spiralis[edit]

Main article: Fucus spiralis

F. spiralis is one of the three most common algae on the shores of the British Isles. It grows to about 40 cm long and does not show air bladders as found on F.vesiculosus or toothed edges as found on F. serratus. It forms a zone near the top of the shore above the zones of F. vesiculosus and F. serratus.

Fucus vesiculosus[edit]

Main article: bladder wrack

This is one of the most common species of Fucus, common on most shores in the mid-littoral. Readily identified by a distinct mid-rib and air vesicles in pairs on either side of the mid-rib.[16]


  1. ^ Clow and Clow indicate four species of seaweed as sources for kelp: Fucus vesiculosus, Ascophyllum nodosum (formerly Fucus nodosus L.), Fucus serratus, and Laminaria digitata (Hudson) J.V. Lamouroux (formerly Fucus digitatus L.).[8]


  1. ^ H. Stegenga, J. J. Bolton & R. J. Anderson (1997). Seaweeds of the South African West Coast. Contributions from the Bolus Herbarium Volume 18. Rondebosch: Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape Town. ISBN 0-7992-1793-X. 
  2. ^ Michael Guiry. "Fucus". National University of Ireland, Galway. Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  3. ^ a b I. A. Abbott & G. J. Hollenberg (1976). Marine Algae of California. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0867-3. 
  4. ^ C. van den Hoek, D. G. Mann & H. M. Jahns (1995). Algae: An Introduction to Phycology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-30419-9. 
  5. ^ a b F. G. Hardy & M. D. Guiry (2006). A Checklist and Atlas of the Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland. British Phycological Society, London. ISBN 3-906166-35-X. 
  6. ^ W. R. Taylor (1972). Marine Algae of the Northeastern Coast of North America. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-04904-6. 
  7. ^ J. R. Lewis (1964). The Ecology of Rocky Shores. The English Universities Press Ltd, London. 
  8. ^ a b A. Clow & N. L. Clow (1952). Chemical Revolution. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press. pp. 65–90. ISBN 0-8369-1909-2. 
  9. ^ "Sponge puzzles superbug experts". BBC News. December 26, 2005. 
  10. ^ M. D. Guiry (2006). "Fucus Linnaeus 1753: 1158". AlgaeBase. Retrieved August 21, 2006. 
  11. ^ Guiry, M.D. (2011). "Fucus Linnaeus, 1753". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  12. ^ G. Russell (1978). D. E. G. Irvine & J. H. Price, ed. Modern Approaches to the Taxonomy of Red and Brown Algae. Systematics Association. pp. 339–369. 
  13. ^ a b H. T. Powell (1957). "Studies in the genus Fucus L. II. Distribution and ecology of forms of Fucus distichus L. emend. Powell in Britain and Ireland". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 36 (03): 663–693. doi:10.1017/S0025315400025923. 
  14. ^ H. T. Powell (1957). "Studies in the genus Fucus L. I. Fucus distichus L. emend. Powell". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 36 (02): 407–432. doi:10.1017/S002531540001688X. 
  15. ^ H. T. Powell (1963). "Speciation in the genus Fucus L., and related genera". In J. P. Harding & N. Tebble. Speciation in the Sea. Systematics Association Publications 5. pp. 63–77. 
  16. ^ Lily Newton (1931). A Handbook of the British Seaweeds. London: British Museum. 
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