ABS19698

Discovery of arabinogalactan proteins, molecules involved in substrate adherence in ivy, in the red seaweed Tsunamia transpacifica which grows on marine plastic debris


  • Oral Presentation
  • Plant Cell Biology and Biochemistry
  • 13 Jun 2018 11:30
  • FS-G01, UCD Agriculture and food science Centre
  • View all IPSAM abstracts

R.J. Veenhof*
Botany and Plant Science, Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, School of Natural Science, NUI Galway, Ireland

J.A. West
School of Biosciences 2, University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC 3010, Australia

Z.A. Popper
Botany and Plant Science, Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, School of Natural Science, NUI Galway, Ireland

*Presenting Author


Plastic pollution is a severe threat to our world’s oceans. While posing a danger to marine macro-fauna, micro-flora has started to colonize this novel substrate. Ongoing research on the algae that colonize plastic form an important part of the effort to mitigate negative effects of plastic pollution. We are researching the cell wall of the newly discovered red alga Tsunamia transpacifica. The cell wall surrounds living cells of plants and algae and is a diverse and dynamic structure that plays a central role in substrate attachment, communication and growth. Land plant and algal cell walls differ significantly, but little is known about algal cell walls functionality. Preliminary studies using glycan arrays suggested Tsunamia has unusual cell walls and indicated the presence of arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) and xyloglucan, previously thought absent in the Rhodophyta. Immunofluorescence and extraction techniques followed by colorimetric analysis using a specific AGP-binding dye, Yariv reagent, confirm that Tsunamia both secretes AGPs and contains them within its extracellular matrix. AGPs are known to be involved in substrate attachment in ivy, and could perform a similar role in Tsunamia. Further research is required to establish if AGPs occur more ubiquitously in red algae and what their function is.