Field of Science

Sunday Protist -- Hydrodictyon: The water net

This time, the Sunday Protist will be short, and not involve [too much] scholarly literature -- for real. No, seriously.

Let's do another Archaeplastid. Here, have a Hydrodictyon:
(source:; H.reticulatum in DIC)

It's a water-net of cells! Perhaps you could even use that to fish for copepods or something! It's basically a coenobium of coenocytic cells, meaning it's a network of multinucleate cells arising from a common zygote. It's actually related to Scenedesmus from last week, as you can see in this tree. Nearby net-forming neighbours include Pediastrum and Sorastrum, the former seeming a bit paraphyletic. Interestingly, just as in Scenedesmus, the 'colony' is to some extent 'preformed' in the mother cell prior to release - the zoospores (from a single parent) swarm and later form the net; the growth of each cell depends on how many points of contact it has with other cells. Isolated cells don't grow at all, whereas those that touch several grow extensively. Thus, the growth itself is initated by pressure (McReynolds 1961 Bull Torrey Bot Club), as is the shape of the cell, as far as I can tell.

This organism would be interesting to explore morphogenesis and self-organisation; and seems to have been rather neglected. The more recent papers on Hydrodictyon seem to be either of the biochemical/bioremediation nature, or the "we stared at some algae in central Pakistan" variety. I say we explore its potential as a fishing net for copepods. MASSIVE business potential, srsly. ^_^

Phew, now I've done enough of Archaeplastida to forget about them for a few more months until my conscience starts eating me up again. Yeah, Archaeplastids aren't exactly my favourite kingdom... Kinda weird for someone who works on plants at the moment... (although many True Botanists(tm) claim Arabidopsis is not a plant...)

Should be on a bit of a blogging hiatus this week -- presentation and a midterm this Friday, among other things. Also, boss wants data. Should probably go generate make gather some. Trying to find a way to make my numbers say what I want them to. Ah, the art of graph manipulation and creative statistics...

By the way, in all seriousness, I treat my data well. Or try to anyway. Even in spite of pressure to get publishable results ASAP... it's interesting how once you get an idea of what you want to publish, and go into the confirmation phase, your objectivity becomes an inverse function of how much effort was put into a project and how much pressure you have to get it done. I wonder if there's a higher chance of poor data gathering or massive misinterpretation during those later stages in the Publication [vicious] Cycle. Perhaps the best science actually happens during the 'fooling around in hopes of stumbling across something interesting' phase... any thoughts?

Ok, make sure I don't blog too much this week. Also, go do the Mystery Micrograph! Ask questions! It's a really weird one... (which should narrow it down. Then again, everything's weirder the more you look!)


  1. WOW! Those are amazing. Is the net of cells attached to any kind of body? Or is that the whole organism.

  2. That's the whole organism. As far as I know, it lacks spatial cell differentiation, and thus not truly multicellular (hence, coenobium), but you can sorta see how easy it would've been to go from that to something multicellular (which seemed to have happened multiple times among green algae and charophytes...)


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