Chondrus crispus (carrageen)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Chondrus crispus Stackhouse 1797
Preferred Common Name
International Common Names
- English: carrageen moss; carragheen; Irish moss; jelly moss
- French: mousse d'Irlande
OverviewTop of page
Chondrus crispus, commonly known as carrageen or Irish moss, is a common red alga found on both sides of the North Atlantic. Chondrus is widely harvested as a health food and sea-vegetable and for the production of the commercially important gelling agent, carrageenan (Guiry, 1981). When collected in the wild, it is often collected along with the morphologically similar species Mastocarpus stellatus (Morrissey et al., 2001).
Chondrus was once the most important source of carrageenan but has been displaced by other species more suited to intensive aquaculture that are less expensive to produce (Zertuche-González et al., 2001).
Because of this economic importance, it’s biology (e.g. Harvey and McLachlan, 1973; McLachlan et al., 1989) and ecology (e.g. Mathieson and Prince, 1973; Mathieson and Burns, 1975; Mathieson and Tveter, 1975) have been well studied. It’s cultivation in outdoor tanks as raw material for commercial utilization has also been investigated (Chen and Taylor, 1978; Simpson and Shacklock, 1979; Shacklock and Croft, 1981; Bidwell et al., 1985) and strains of northwest Atlantic populations are currently been cultivated on a large scale in Canada by Acadian Seaplants Ltd. as a human foodstuff.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Rhodophyta
- Class: Rhodophyceae
- Order: Gigartinales
- Family: Gigartinaceae
- Genus: Chondrus
- Species: Chondrus crispus
DescriptionTop of page
Thallus with a discoid holdfast and erect fronds in tufts with more or less dichotomous branching often forming a broad fan-shape tapering to the base. Tips of the branches have a violet iridescence when viewed in water. A low bushy plant rarely exceeding 15 cm it is found in a variety of forms and colours depending on environmental parameters. Lower down the shore thalli are longer with long stipe and thick blade becoming more linear with exposure. In rock-pools the thalli have shorter stipes and are thinner and broader. The variation in morphology is also influenced by the salinity with the blades getting broader and more overlapping with a reduction in salinity. Tetrasporic and gametophytic thalli are almost identical but can be separated using a chemical method based on the fractionation of the carrageenans in the different life history phases. Kappa-carrageenan is produced by the gametophyte and lambda-carrageenan is produced by the tetrasporophyte and these can be differentiated using the resorcinol test as described by Garbary and De Wreede (1987).
Plant TypeTop of page Aquatic
DistributionTop of page
Type species occurs in the north Atlantic from New Jersey in the west to Spain and possibly Morocco and the Cape Verde Islands in the east (Dixon and Irvine, 1977). The occurrence of this species in the Canary Islands is doubtful; see comments in Price et al. (1986). Skottsberg (1953) was of the opinion that a record from the Antarctic Peninsula is not this species (see Papenfuss, 1964). John et al. (2004) note that all records are considered doubtful by Price et al. (1986) and Haroun et al. (2002).
Despite not being native to the region, Zertuche-González et al. (2001) attempted open water cultivation of Chondrus in Baja California, Mexico.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Atlantic, Northeast||Present||Native||Dixon and Irvine, 1977|
|Atlantic, Northwest||Present||Native||Dixon and Irvine, 1977|
|Mediterranean and Black Sea||Present||Native||Tsekos and Haritonidis, 1977|
|Pacific, Antarctic||Present||Introduced||Skottsberg, 1953|
|Pacific, Northwest||Present||Introduced||Lindstrom, 1977|
Invasive Species ThreatsTop of page
ReferencesTop of page
Balcom NC, 2009. G. turuturu: a red seaweed invading Long Island Sound. G. turuturu: a red seaweed invading Long Island Sound. Groton, Connecticut: Connecticut Sea Grant, 2 pp. http://web2.uconn.edu/seagrant/publications/ais/gratelou.pdf
Bidwell RGS; McLachlan J; Lloyd NDH, 1985. Tank cultivation of Irish moss, Chondrus crispus Stackh. Botanica Marina, 28:87-97.
Chen LCM; Craigie JS; McCandless EL; McLachlan JL; Neish AC; Shacklock PF; Walter JA, 1975. Algal polysaccharide production. United States Patent. United States: 1-10.
Chen LC-M; Taylor ARA, 1978. Medullary tissue culture of the red alga Chondrus crispus. Can. J. Bot., 56:883-886.
Chopin T; Buschmann AH; Halling C; Troell M; Kautsky N; Neori A; Kraemer GP; Zertuche-Gonzalez JA; Yarish C; Neefus C, 2001. Integrating seaweeds into marine aquaculture systems: a key toward sustainability. Journal of Phycology, 37:975-986.
Dixon PS; Irvine LM, 1977. Seaweeds of the British Isles. Volume 1. Rhodophyta. Part 1. Introduction, Nemaliales, Gigartinales. London, UK: British Museum (Natural History).
Fernandez C; Menendez MP, 1991. Ecology of Chondrus crispus on the northern coast of Spain. 2. Reproduction. Botanica Marina, 34:303-310.
Garbary D; DeWreede RE, 1987. Life history phases in natural populations of Gigartinaceae (Rhodophyta): quantification using resorcinol. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Guiry MD, 1981. Chondrus crispus Stackhouse ‘T4’ is a male clone (Rhodophyta). Phycologia, 20:438-439.
Harlin MM; Villalard-Bohnsack M, 2001. Seasonal dynamics and recruitment strategies of the invasive seaweed Grateloupia doryphora (Halymeniaceae, Rhodophyta) in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, Rhode Island, USA. Phycologia, 40:468-474.
Haroun RJ; Gil-Rodríguez MC; Díaz de Castro J; Prud’homme van Reine WF, 2002. A checklist of the marine plants from the Canary Islands (central eastern Atlantic Ocean). Botanica Marina, 45:139-169.
Harvey MJ; McLachlan J, 1973. Chondrus crispus. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia Institute of Science.
John DM; Prud’homme van Reine WF; Lawson GW; Kostermans TB; Price JH, 2004. A taxonomic and geographical catalogue of the seaweeds of the western coast of Africa and adjacent islands. Beihefte zur Nova Hedwigia.
Juanes JA; McLachlan JL, 1992. Productivity of Chondrus crispus Stackhouse (Rhodophyta, Gigartinales) in sublittoral Prince Edward Island, Canada. I. Seasonal pattern. Botanica Marina, 35:391-398.
Lindstrom SC, 1977. An annotated bibliography of the benthic marine algae of Alaska. Alaska Dept. Fish and Game, Tech. Data Report No. 31, 172 pp.
Mathieson AC; Burns RL, 1975. Ecological studies of economic red algae. V. Growth and reproduction of natural and harvested populations of Chondrus crispus Stackhouse in New Hampshire. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 17:137-156.
Mathieson AC; Prince JS, 1973. Ecology of Chondrus crispus Stackhouse. Proc. N. S. Inst. Sci., 27:53-79.
Mathieson AC; Tveter E, 1975. Carrageenan ecology of Chondrus crispus Stackhouse. Aq. Bot., 1:25-43.
McLachlan JL; Quinn J; MacDougall C, 1989. The structure of the plant of Chondrus crispus Stackhouse (Irish moss). Journal of Applied Phycology, 1: 311-317.
Morrissey J; Kraan S; Guiry MD, 2001. A guide to commercially important seaweeds on the Irish coast. Bord Iascaigh Mhara: Dun Laoghaire.
Neish AC; Shacklock PF; Fox CH; Simpson FJ, 1977. The cultivation of Chondrus crispus. Factors affecting growth under greenhouse conditions. Can. J. Bot., 55:2263-2271.
Papenfuss GF, 1964. Catalogue and bibliography of Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic benthic marine algae. In: Lee MO, eds. Bibliography of the Antarctic Seas. Vol. 1, 1-76. Washington DC, USA: American Geophysical Union.
Price JH; John DM; Lawson GW, 1986. Seaweeds of the western coast of tropical Africa and adjacent islands: a critical assessment. III. Rhodophyta (Florideae). 1. Genera A-F. Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Bot.), 15:1-122.
Prince JS; Kingsbury JM, 1973. The ecology of Chondus crispus at Plymouth, Massachusetts. II. Field studies. American Journal of Botany, 60:964-975.
Pybus C, 1977. The ecology of Chondrus crispus and Gigartina stellata (Rhodophyta) in Galway Bay. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 57:609-628.
Salem Sound Coastwatch, 2009. Guide to marine invaders in the Gulf of Maine: G. turuturu, red algae. Guide to marine invaders in the Gulf of Maine: G. turuturu, red algae. unpaginated. http://www.mass.gov/czm/invasives/docs/invaders/g_turuturu.pdf
Scrosati R; Garbary DJ; McLachlan J, 1994. Reproductive ecology of Chondrus crispus (Rhodophyta, Gigartinales) from Nova Scotia, Canada. Botanica Marina, 37:293-300.
Shacklock PF; Croft GB, 1981. Effect of grazers on Chondrus crispus in culture. Aquaculture, 22:331-342.
Simpson FJ; Shacklock PF, 1979. The cultivation of Chondrus crispus. Effect of temperature on growth and carrageenan production. Botanica Marina, 22:295-298.
Skottsberg C, 1953. On two collections of Antarctic marine algae. Ark. Bot. Ser., 2(2):531-566.
Tsekos I; Haritonidis S, 1977. A survey of the marine algae of the Ionian Islands, Greece. Botanica Marina, 20:47-65.
ContributorsTop of page
Irish Seaweed Centre, Martin Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Distribution MapsTop of page
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