Main content area

Within-clutch variability in gamete size arises from the size variation in gametangia in the marine green alga Monostroma angicava

Horinouchi, Yusuke, Togashi, Tatsuya
Plant reproduction 2018 v.31 no.2 pp. 193-200
Monostroma, dioecy, females, gametogenesis, gametophytes, germ cells, males, spawning
KEY MESSAGE : Within-clutch gamete size variability in Monostroma angicava. In many organisms, it is unclear how the size variation in gametes is generated in each clutch (i.e., total gametes produced by a gametophyte for a single spawning) or how gamete size is adjusted. Within-clutch variation in gamete size has been explained as a result of either physiological/developmental constraints or bet hedging during gametogenesis. These two explanations have been assumed to be mutually exclusive, and related observations are conflicting. The slightly anisogamous dioecious green alga Monostroma angicava employs a simple mechanism to produce gametes of each sex: each vegetative cell becomes a single gametangium cell, which synchronously divides to form equally sized gametes. The number of such cell divisions has several variations, which might vary gamete size. We measured the volume of gametangia in each clutch, counted the number of cell divisions in each gametangium and estimated the size of the gametes. We found that larger gametangia divided more times than smaller gametangia in both sexes, although male gametangia were smaller than female gametangia when they underwent the same number of cell divisions. Therefore, the variation in the number of cell divisions during gametogenesis serves to adjust gamete size in each sex rather than to vary it. Within-clutch gamete size variability originates in within-clutch variation in gametangium size: any factors that increase the variation in the size of gametangia can increase the within-clutch variation in gamete size.