Variability and similarities in the structural properties of two related Laminaria kelp species
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 2018, 200 395-405. 10.1016/j.ecss.2017.11.029
Kelps of the genus Laminaria have long been studied and shown to exhibit a seasonal shift in growth and morphology, as nutrients and light levels change during the year. However, the variation of kelp biomechanical properties has been little explored despite the importance of these properties for the interaction of kelp with the flow. Previous research showed that aging does influence the algae biomechanical properties, so this study further investigates the variability of kelp biomechanical properties and morphological characteristics at a given site as a function of the season (growth phase), species, and different kelp parts. Mechanical parameters and morphological characteristics were measured on kelps sampled in winter and summer, and DNA sequencing was used to identify the two related species, L. digitata and L. hyperborea. Descriptive statistics and statistical analysis were used to detect trends in the modulation of kelp mechanical design. Although two distinct species were identified, only minor structural differences were observed between them. The biomechanical properties varied significantly along the kelp, and significant seasonal shifts occurred at the blade level, in relation to the different morphological changes during blade renewal. In general, the variations of the structural properties were mostly linked to the blade growth activity. The absence of significant variation in the mechanical design of the two species highlights the significance of the adaptation to the same local environmental conditions, this adaptation being a key process in vegetation-flow interactions and having implications on the interaction between kelp and hydrodynamics.