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Appl Microbiol. 1975 Jun;29(6):729-38.

Basis for the resistance of several algae to microbial decomposition.


The basis for the resistance of certain algae to microbial decomposition in natural waters was investigated using Pediastrum duplex, Staurastrum sp., and Fischerella muscicola as test organisms. Enzyme preparations previously found to convert susceptible algae into spheroplasts had no such effect on the resistant species, although glucose and galacturonic acid was released from P. duplex walls. Little protein or lipid but considerable carbohydrate was found in the walls of the refractory organisms, but resistance was not correlated with the presence of a unique sugar monomer. A substance present in Staurastrum sp. walls was characterized as lignin or lignin-like on the basis of its extraction characteristics, infrared spectrum, pyrolysis pattern, and content of an aromatic building block. Sporopollenin was found in P. duplex, and cellulose in Staurastrum sp. Cell walls of the algae were fractionated, and the fractions least susceptible to microbial degradation were the sporopollenin of P. duplex, the polyaromatic component of Staurastrum sp., and two F. muscicola fractions containing several sugar monomers. The sporopollenin content of P. duplex, the content of lignin or a related constituent of Staurastrum sp., and the resistance of the algae to microbial attack increased with age. It is suggested that resistance results from the presence of sporopollenin in P. duplex, a lignin-like material in Staurastrum sp., and possibly heteropolysaccharides in F. muscicola.

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