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Common name
Synonym
Gracilaria asiatica , Zhang & Xia
Gracilariopsis vermiculophylla , Ohmi
Similar species
Gracilaria gracilis, Gracilariopsis longissima
Summary
Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Ohmi) Papenfuss is a red alga and was originally described in Japan in 1956 as Gracilariopsis vermiculophylla. It is thought to be native and widespread throughout the Northwest Pacific Ocean. G. vermiculophylla is primarily used as a precursor for agar, which is widely used in the pharmaceutical and food industries. It has been introduced to the East Pacific, the West Atlantic and the East Atlantic, where it rapidly colonises new environments. It is highly tolerant of stresses and can grow in an extremely wide variety of conditions; factors which contribute to its invasiveness. It invades estuarine areas where it outcompetes native algae species and modifies environments.
Species Description
Gracilaria vermiculophylla is a red macroalga that is cartilaginous, cylindrical and up to 50 cm long. It is coarsely branched, often profusely so. G. vermiculophylla can be found as loose-lying thalli or attached to small stones or shells. Red algae are often found in the vegetative state, and characterisation of reproductive structures is often necessary for correct identification of Gracilaria species (AlgaeBase 2010; Liao & Hommersand 2003; Nyberg et al. 2009; Rueness 2005).
Notes
Over 179 species are included in the genera Gracilaria and Gracilariopsis. The delineation of species in these genera has been notoriously difficult due to morphological similarities between species (Goff et al. 1994; Rueness 2005). Taxonomic problems have been particularly pronounced for Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Bellorin et al. 2004).

In a recent review Terada and Yamamota (2002 in Rueness 2005) reduced G. asiatica Zhang & Xia into synonymy with G. vermiculophylla.

The morphological similarities between G. vermiculophylla and other related algal species mean that the invasion of this alga is often cryptic, requiring DNA analysis for reliable identification (Thomsen et al. 2006a; Thomsen et al. 2006b). To avoid future taxonomic confusion Thomsen et al. (2006b) recommend researchers create silica-gel, air-dried, and/or herbarium presses as voucher specimens so that the correct identification can be confirmed using morphological and molecular analysis.

Lifecycle Stages
Gracilaria vermiculophylla is a perennial species with alternating generations (isomorphic life cycle). Dioecious haploid gametophytes produce either male or female gametes. These fuse to create a diploid zygote which grows into a diploid tetrasporophyte, (Nyberg et al. 2009; Rueness 2005; Thornber 2006). There is also a parasitic heteromorphic carposporophyte generation (Xie et al. 2010).
Uses
G. vermiculophylla is widely collected for the production of the biopolymer agar, which is used extensively in the pharmaceutical and food industries (Mollet et al. 1998; Sousa et al. 2010).
Habitat Description
Gracilaria vermiculophylla is thought to be a temperate to subtropical alga, and can grow in both temperate and tropical regions. It is well-adapted to low energy, shallow-bottom bays, lagoons, estuaries, harbours and inslets (Yokoya et al. 1999; Thomsen & McGlathery 2007; Nyberg et al. 2009; M. S. Thomsen, pers. comm.). It forms extensive beds in the intertidal zone and upper sublittoral zones, where it attaches to rocks or pebbles, often covered with sand and mud (Bellorin et al. 2004). It often occurs as pure stands to the exclusion of other algae species (Rueness 2005).\r\n\r\n

G. vermiculophylla is able to grow in a wide range of temperatures (5-35 °C), light intensities (20–100 μmol photons m-2 s-1) and salinities (5-60 psu). Optimum growing conditions are between 15-25 °C and 10-45 psu (Rainkar et al. 2001; Rueness 2005). It is also tolerant to other stressses including sedimentation, desiccation, grazing and low nutrients (Rueness 2005). Nybert et al. (2009) found in one instance that this alga was able to survive in complete darkness for more than five months in the laboratory.

Reproduction
Gracilaria vermiculophylla reproduces by spores, which are non-motile, therefore restricting this alga to passive dispersal mechanisms. Male and female gametophytes and tetrasporophytes have a similar morphology (Freshwater et al. 2006; Nyberg et al. 2009; Woelkerling 1990, in Freshwater et al. 2006).
Nutrition
Gracilaria vermiculophylla belongs to the phylum Rhodophyta (red algae). Red algae are primitive photosynthetic eukaryotes (Xie et al. 2010).
Pathway
Spread is likely to occur on vectors such as fishing and leisure boats (Nyberg 2007 in Nyberg et al. 2009).Fishing gear (Nyberg et al. 2009).

Principal source:

Compiler: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)

Review: M. S. Thomsen, Marine Department, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus.

Publication date: 2011-04-09

Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2019) Species profile: Gracilaria vermiculophylla. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=1698 on 18-07-2019.

General Impacts
Ecosystem impacts: Gracilaria vermiculophylla inhibits the growth and survival of native algae through competition (Council of Europe 2009; Hamman et al. n.d.). It has been demonstrated to have negative effects on native seagrass beds of Zostera marina by decreasing net leaf photosynthesis and survival rates. Negative effects on seagrass are greater at higher temperatures, suggesting that impacts could increase with future ocean warming (Martínez-Lüscher & Holmer, 2010). In some areas such as Hog Island Bay in Virginia G. vermiculophylla dominate algal assemblages, in all seasons and elevation levels (Thomsen et al. 2006b). Accumulation of G. vermiculophylla may also impair environmental conditions for threatened Charophytes and Zostera noltii in Sweden (Gärdenfors 2005 in Nyberg et al., 2009).\r\n

In high abundance G. vermiculophylla may have dramatic effects on ecosystems. The introduction of G. vermiculophylla adds structural complexity to relatively homogenous soft-bottom systems and add new attachment sites for filamentous algae and sessile animals (Thomsen et al. 2006a; Nyberg et al., 2009). Thus G. vermiculophylla can provide shelter and food for other organisms, including microalgae, gastropods, crustaceans, polychaetes, and mny other small invertebrates. In Virginia research has shown that most invertebrate groups were positively affected by the presence of G. vermiculophylla in native algae (Thomsen et al., 2010).\r\n

While G. vermiculophylla may enhance local diversity, the ability to utilize increased habitat complexity will vary between species (Nyberg et al. 2009). Furthermore these changes could lead to effects on higher trophic levels (Aikins & Kukuchi 2002; Freshwater et al. 2006; Gustafsson 2005 in Nyberg et al. 2009; Nyberg et al. 2009; Thomsen et al. 2007c).\r\n

Loose-lying G. vermiculophylla populations have the potential to develop into dense mats, particularly in shallow bays, lagoons, harbours and estuaries. These mats can modify the habitat available for the benthic faunal community and bottom dwelling fish. Algal mats can also form physical barriers for settling larvae, decrease light intensity, increase the likelihood of anoxia and change water movement patterns, which in turn affects sedimentation rate and thus food availability for deposit feeders (Nyberg et al. 2009).\r\n

Additionally, the movement, accumulation and decomposition of G. vermiculophylla is likely to have important implications for nutrient cycling and trophic dynamics in areas it invades (Thomsen et al. 2009).\r\n

Fisheries: G. vermiculophylla is reported to be a problem in fishing industries through fouling of nets (Freshwater et al. 2000).

Management Info
Accurate identification of Gracilaria vermiculophylla has been problematic in the past, leading to much confusion with similar species. DNA analysis, including rapid DNA barcoding, is now used for accurate identification (Bellorin et al. 2004; Saunders 2009).\r\n

Prevention: Movement of oysters is a major vector for the introduction of G. vermiculophylla to new locations worldwide. Thus making sure oysters are not transplanted may reduce the incidences of new infestations (M.S. Thomsen, pers. comm. 2011).\r\n

Physical control: Mechanical removal (harvesting) of G. vermiculophylla for use in the production of agar and other applications is a potential control method (Sousa et al. 2010; Villanueva et al. 2010).

Countries (or multi-country features) with distribution records for Gracilaria vermiculophylla
NATIVE RANGE
  • china
  • japan
  • korea, democratic people's republic of
  • korea, republic of
  • russian federation
  • viet nam
Informations on Gracilaria vermiculophylla has been recorded for the following locations. Click on the name for additional informations.
Lorem Ipsum
Location Status Invasiveness Occurrence Source
Details of Gracilaria vermiculophylla in information
Status
Invasiveness
Arrival date
Occurrence
Source
Introduction
Species notes for this location
Location note
Management notes for this location
Impact
Mechanism:
Outcome:
Ecosystem services:
Impact information
Ecosystem impacts: Gracilaria vermiculophylla inhibits the growth and survival of native algae through competition (Council of Europe 2009; Hamman et al. n.d.). It has been demonstrated to have negative effects on native seagrass beds of Zostera marina by decreasing net leaf photosynthesis and survival rates. Negative effects on seagrass are greater at higher temperatures, suggesting that impacts could increase with future ocean warming (Martínez-Lüscher & Holmer, 2010). In some areas such as Hog Island Bay in Virginia G. vermiculophylla dominate algal assemblages, in all seasons and elevation levels (Thomsen et al. 2006b). Accumulation of G. vermiculophylla may also impair environmental conditions for threatened Charophytes and Zostera noltii in Sweden (Gärdenfors 2005 in Nyberg et al., 2009).\r\n

In high abundance G. vermiculophylla may have dramatic effects on ecosystems. The introduction of G. vermiculophylla adds structural complexity to relatively homogenous soft-bottom systems and add new attachment sites for filamentous algae and sessile animals (Thomsen et al. 2006a; Nyberg et al., 2009). Thus G. vermiculophylla can provide shelter and food for other organisms, including microalgae, gastropods, crustaceans, polychaetes, and mny other small invertebrates. In Virginia research has shown that most invertebrate groups were positively affected by the presence of G. vermiculophylla in native algae (Thomsen et al., 2010).\r\n

While G. vermiculophylla may enhance local diversity, the ability to utilize increased habitat complexity will vary between species (Nyberg et al. 2009). Furthermore these changes could lead to effects on higher trophic levels (Aikins & Kukuchi 2002; Freshwater et al. 2006; Gustafsson 2005 in Nyberg et al. 2009; Nyberg et al. 2009; Thomsen et al. 2007c).\r\n

Loose-lying G. vermiculophylla populations have the potential to develop into dense mats, particularly in shallow bays, lagoons, harbours and estuaries. These mats can modify the habitat available for the benthic faunal community and bottom dwelling fish. Algal mats can also form physical barriers for settling larvae, decrease light intensity, increase the likelihood of anoxia and change water movement patterns, which in turn affects sedimentation rate and thus food availability for deposit feeders (Nyberg et al. 2009).\r\n

Additionally, the movement, accumulation and decomposition of G. vermiculophylla is likely to have important implications for nutrient cycling and trophic dynamics in areas it invades (Thomsen et al. 2009).\r\n

Fisheries: G. vermiculophylla is reported to be a problem in fishing industries through fouling of nets (Freshwater et al. 2000).

Red List assessed species 0:
Locations
Atlantic - Northeast
DENMARK
GERMANY
SWEDEN
UNITED STATES
Mechanism
[4] Competition
Outcomes
[9] Environmental Ecosystem - Habitat
  • [1] Modification of nutrient pool and fluxes
  • [5] Modification of natural benthic communities
  • [3] Reduction in native biodiversity
[2] Environmental Species - Population
  • [2] Reduces/inhibits the growth of other species
[1] Socio-Economic
  • [1] Damage on aquaculture/mariculture/fishery
Management information
Accurate identification of Gracilaria vermiculophylla has been problematic in the past, leading to much confusion with similar species. DNA analysis, including rapid DNA barcoding, is now used for accurate identification (Bellorin et al. 2004; Saunders 2009).\r\n

Prevention: Movement of oysters is a major vector for the introduction of G. vermiculophylla to new locations worldwide. Thus making sure oysters are not transplanted may reduce the incidences of new infestations (M.S. Thomsen, pers. comm. 2011).\r\n

Physical control: Mechanical removal (harvesting) of G. vermiculophylla for use in the production of agar and other applications is a potential control method (Sousa et al. 2010; Villanueva et al. 2010).

Locations
UNITED STATES
Management Category
Unknown
Bibliography
38 references found for Gracilaria vermiculophylla

Managment information
General information
AlgaeBASE, 2010. Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Ohmi) Papenfuss
Summary: Available from: http://www.algaebase.org/search/species/detail/?species_id=4417 [Accessed 20 August 2010]
Anon. 2009. Seaweed invasion hurts shrimpers. Associated Press.
Summary: Available from: http://www.aikenstandard.com/State/m1025-BC-SC-SeaweedInvasion-1stLd-Writethru-07-09-0693 [Accessed 16 March 2011]
Bellorin, Alexis M.; Oliveira, Mariana C.; Oliveira, Eurico C., 2004. Gracilaria vermiculophylla: A western Pacific species of Gracilariaceae (Rhodophyta) first recorded from the eastern Pacific. Phycological Research. 52(2). June 2004. 69-79.
Freshwater, D. Wilson; Greene, Julie K.; Hamner, Rebecca M.; Montgomery, Frank, 2006. Seasonality of the invasive seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla along the southeastern coast of North Carolina. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science. 122(2). SUM 2006. 49-55.
Freshwater, D. Wilson; Montgomery, Frank; Greene, Julie K.; Hamner, Rebecca M.; Williams, Melissa; Whitfield, Paula E., 2006. Distribution and identification of an invasive Gracilaria species that is hampering commercial fishing operations in southeastern North Carolina, USA. Biological Invasions. 8(4). JUN 2006. 631-637.
Gollasch, Stephan and Stefan Nehring, 2006. National checklist for aquatic alien species in Germany. Aquatic Invasions (2006) Volume 1, Issue 4: 245-269
Summary: Available from: http://www.aquaticinvasions.ru/2006/AI_2006_1_4_Gollasch_Nehring.pdf [Accessed 18 November 2009]
Gollasch, Stephan; Deniz Haydar; Dan Minchin; Wim J. Wolff and Karsten Reise, 2009. Chapter 29 Introduced Aquatic Species of the North Sea Coasts and Adjacent Brackish Waters. In G. Rilov, J.A. Crooks (eds.) Biological Invasions in Marine Ecosystems. 507 Ecological Studies 204
Guillemin, M.L.; Akki S.A.; Givernaud, T.; Mouradi, A.; Valero, M. & Destombe, C. 2008. Molecular characterisation and development of rapid molecular methods to identify species of Gracilariaceae from the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Aquatic Botany 89: 324-330.
Hammann, M., B. Buchholz, R. Karez, F. Weinberger, n.d. Impact of the invasive red alga Gracilaria vermiculophylla upon native Fucus communities in the Baltic Sea
Summary: Available from: http://www.ifm-geomar.de/fileadmin/ifm-geomar/fuer_alle/institut/PR/science/EXOEK-B-Weinberger-s.pdf [Accessed 20 August 2010]
Hoeffle, H.; Thomsen, M.S. & Holmer, M. 2011. Effects of the invasive macroalgae Gracilaria vermiculophylla on the seagrass Zostera marina under different temperature regimes. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science.
Kim, Su Yeon; Weinberger, Florian; Boo, Sung Min. 2010. Genetic data hint at a common donor region for invasive Atlantic and Pacific populations of Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta) Journal of Phycology. 46. JUN 2010. 1346-1349.
Martinez-Luscher, Johann; Holmer, Marianne, 2010. Potential effects of the invasive species Gracilaria vermiculophylla on Zostera marina metabolism and survival. Marine Environmental Research. 69(5). JUN 2010. 345-349.
Mathieson, Arthur C.; Pederson, Judith R.; Neefus, Christopher D.; Dawes, Clinton J.; Bray, Troy L., 2008. Multiple assessments of introduced seaweeds in the Northwest Atlantic. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 65(5). JUL 2008. 730-741.
Nyberg, Cecilia D.; Thomsen, Mads S.; Wallentinus, Inger, 2009. Flora and fauna associated with the introduced red alga Gracilaria vermiculophylla. European Journal of Phycology. 44(3). 2009. 395-403.
Nyberg, Cecilia D.; Wallentinus, Inger, 2009. Long-term survival of an introduced red alga in adverse conditions. Marine Biology Research. 5(3). 2009. 304-308.
Rueness, Jan, 2005. Life history and molecular sequences of Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta), a new introduction to European waters. Phycologia. 44(1). January 2005. 120-128.
Saunders, Gary W., 2009. Routine DNA barcoding of Canadian Gracilariales (Rhodophyta) reveals the invasive species Gracilaria vermiculophylla in British Columbia. Molecular Ecology Resources. 9(Suppl. 1). MAY 2009. 140-150.
Sfriso, Adriano; Maistro, Silvia; Andreoili, Carlo; Moro, Isabella. 2010. First record of Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta) in the Po Delta lagoons, Mediterranean Sea (Italy). Journal of Phycology. 46. JUN 2010. 1024-1027.
Skriptsova, A.V. & Choi, H.G. 2009. Taxonomic revision of Gracilaria �verrucosa� from the Russian Far East based on morphological and molecular data. Botanica Marina 52: 331-340.
Thomsen, Mads Solgaard; Frederico, Carlos; Gurgel, Deluqui; Fredericq, Suzanne; McGlathery, Karen J., 2006. Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Rhodophyta, Gracilariales) in Hog Island Bay, Virginia: A cryptic alien and invasive macroalga and taxonomic correction. Journal of Phycology. 42(1). FEB 2006. 139-141.
Thomsen, Mads Solgaard; McGlathery, Karen J.; Tyler, Anna Christina, 2006. Macroalgal distribution patterns in a shallow, soft-bottom lagoon, with emphasis on the nonnative Gracilaria vermiculophylla and Codium fragile. Estuaries & Coasts. 29(3). JUN 2006. 465-473.
Thomsen, Mads S.; Wernberg, Thomas; Staehr, Peter; Krause-Jensen, Dorte; Risgaard-Petersen, Nils; Silliman, Brian R., 2007a. Alien macroalgae in Denmark - a broad-scale national perspective. Marine Biology Research. 3(2). 2007. 61-72.
Thomsen, M.S. & McGlathery, K. 2005. Facilitation of macroalgae by the sedimentary tube forming polychaete Diopatra cuprea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 62: 63-73.
Thomsen, M.S. & McGlathery, K. 2006b. Effects of accumulations of sediments and drift algae on recruitment of sessile organisms associated with oyster reefs. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 328: 22-34.
Thomsen, M. S.; McGlathery, K. J., 2007. Stress tolerance of the invasive macroalgae Codium fragile and Gracilaria vermiculophylla in a soft-bottom turbid lagoon. Biological Invasions. 9(5). JUL 2007. 499-513.
Thomsen, M. S.; McGlathery, K. J.; Schwarzschild, A.; Silliman, B. R., 2009. Distribution and ecological role of the non-native macroalga Gracilaria vermiculophylla in Virginia salt marshes. Biological Invasions. 11(10). DEC 2009. 2303-2316.
Thomsen, M. S.; Silliman, B. R.; McGlathery, K. J., 2007b. Spatial variation in recruitment of native and invasive sessile species onto oyster reefs in a temperate soft-bottom lagoon. Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science. 72(1-2). MAR 2007. 89-101.
Thomsen, M.S.; Wernberg, T.; Altieri, A.H.; Tuya, F.; Gulbransen, D.; McGlathery, K.J.; Holmer, M. & Silliman, B.R. 2010. Habitat Cascades: The Conceptual Context and Global Relevance of Facilitation Cascades via Habitat Formation and Modification. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50: 158-175.
Tseng, C.K.; Xia, B.M. 1999. On the Gracilaria in the western Pacific and southeastern Asia region. Botanica Marina. 42. 209-218.
Villanueva, R. D.; Sousa, A. M. M.; Goncalves, M. P.; Nilsson, M.; Hilliou, L., 2010. Production and properties of agar from the invasive marine alga, Gracilaria vermiculophylla (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta). Journal of Applied Phycology. 22(2). APR 2010. 211-220.
Weinberger, Florian; Buchholz, Bjoern; Karez, Rolf; Wahl, Martin, 2008. The invasive red alga Gracilaria vermiculophylla in the Baltic Sea: adaptation to brackish water may compensate for light limitation. Aquatic Biology. 3(3). 2008. 251-264.
Williams, Susan L. and Jennifer E. Smith, 2007. A Global Review of the Distribution, Taxonomy, and Impacts of Introduced Seaweeds. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 2007. 38:327�59
Yakovleva, I. 2008. Antioxidant status of the red alga Gracilaria vermiculophylla from the Russian Pacific coast and its susceptibility to high light. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology a-Molecular & Integrative Physiology 151: S18-S18.
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