Phenology and gene expression of Paralemanea catenata (Lemaneaceae, Rhodophyta) in a Southern California stream

Paralemanea is a freshwater red alga genus in the family Lemaneaceae, of which Paralemanea catenata is a member. The cues by which it regulates its triphasic sexual life history are not well known, either in terms of environmental stimuli or mechanisms. The P. catenata genome has not been sequenced, and RNA sequencing was used to perform the initial investigation. Comparing morphological and ecological measurements (total length, internodal length, spermatangial ring height, number of nodes, and node width; temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, photoperiod, salinity, and conductivity) taken over its growing season, in concert with the RNA sequencing data, suggests photoperiod is the environmental stimulus by which P. catenata regulates its life cycle. Involved in this regulation are phototropins and cryptochromes, which are light-sensitive proteins that allow the alga to continuously monitor light levels and respond to this stimulus.