The effects of desiccation on the early development stages of Mazzaella laminarioides, Scytosiphon lomentaria and Lessonia nigrescens, algal species with different patterns of distribution across the intertidal zone, were examined in the laboratory. In addition, the protective effect against desiccation was evaluated using algal extracts, including those from Porphyra columbina, a macroalga tolerant to desiccation that lives in the uppermost part of the intertidal zone. Our results showed that M. laminarioides displayed the highest resistance to daily desiccation, followed by S. lomentaria, whereas L. nigrescens was the most susceptible. Spores from L. nigrescens exposed to desiccation, although being able to germinate, ceased further post-germination development. In addition, our results showed that all species exposed to extracts from desiccated P. columbina successfully completed their development and strongly suggest the occurrence of compounds with protective properties that help in attenuating the stress caused by desiccation. Finally, our results indicate that the magnitude of the effects generated by desiccation on the early algal development is related to the position of the species in the intertidal zone, and that the protective effects of P. columbina extracts reveal an exceptional metabolism of this species under desiccation stress.
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