Caulerpa taxifolia

Caulerpa taxifolia (M. Vahl) C. Agardh

Common Names

Caulerpa (English), Killer alga (English), Lukay-lukay, Schlauchalge (German), Sea weed (English)

Languages: English

Overview

Brief Summary

“Caulerpa taxifolia is an invasive marine alga that is widely used as a decorative plant in aquaria. A cold-tolerant strain was inadvertently introduced into the Mediterranean Sea in wastewater from the Oceanographic Museum at Monaco, where it has now spread over more than 13,000 hectares of seabed. Caulerpa taxifolia forms dense monocultures that prevent the establishment of native seaweeds and excludes almost all marine life, affecting the livelihoods of local fishermen.”

(NIMPIS 2011, Caulerpa taxifolia general information, National Introduced Marine Pest Information System, viewed 29 January 2011 <http://www.marinepests.gov.au/nimpis>)

See also: Southern California Caulerpa Action Team

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Conservation and Management

Legislation

United States Law: It is illegal to import or transport Caulerpa taxifolia aquarium strain across state lines including internet sale (Federal Noxious Weed Act, 1999; and Federal Plant Protection Act, 2000).

California State Law: It is illegal to possess, transport, transfer, release alive, import, or sell Caulerpa taxifolia, Caulerpa sertularioides, Caulerpa mexicana, Caulerpa ashmeadii, Caulerpa scalpelliformis, Caulerpa racemosa (and all varieties of C. racemosa), Caulerpa cupressoides, Caulerpa verticillata, Caulerpa floridana (California Fish and Game Code 2300).

City of San Diego Law: Bans the possession, sale, and transport of all Caulerpa species within city limits (City of San Diego Ordinance 18967).

(California Sea Grant - Caulerpa species identification key - accessed 1 February 2011)

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Description

Lookalikes

Caulerpa taxifolia is similar in appearance to C. scalpelliformis, C. mexicana, C. sertularioides, and C. ashmeadii -- all also illegal in California (USA) (California Sea Grant - Caulerpa species identification key - "feather").

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Morphology

“Caulerpa taxifolia is a light green macroalga with upright leaf-like fronds arising from creeping stolons. The fronds are flattened laterally and the small side branchlets are constricted at the base (where they attach to the midrib of each frond), are opposite in their attachment to the midrib (as opposed to alternating) and curve upwards and narrow towards the tip. The invasive aquarium clone is morphologically identical to native populations of the species. Frond diameter is 6-8mm and frond length is usually 3-15cm in the shallows, 40-60cm in deeper situations but can grow up to 2.8m in height.”

(NIMPIS 2011, Caulerpa taxifolia general information, National Introduced Marine Pest Information System, viewed 29 January 2011 <http://www.marinepests.gov.au/nimpis>.)

See also: California Sea Grant - Caulerpa species identification key - "feather"

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Ecology

Habitat

Substrate: rock, sand, seagrass

Depth: 3 to 35 m, though to 100 m in Mediterranean

(NIMPIS 2011, Caulerpa taxifolia reproduction and habitat, National Introduced Marine Pest Information System, viewed 29 January 2011 <http://www.marinepests.gov.au/nimpis>)

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Distribution

Native circum-tropical distribution: Africa, Australia, Bermuda, China, Fiji, India, Japan, Maldives, New Caledonia, Hawaii (USA)

Non-native range: Australia, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Monaco, New Zealand, Spain, Tunisia, California (USA)

(Global Invasive Species Database – Caulerpa taxifolia viewed 29 January 2011)

 

First observed in Mediterranean in 1984 in Monaco from which it spread rapidly (Bourdouresque et al., 1995). Found in Southern California 12 June 2000, where rapid-respone eradication and control measures seem to have been fairly effective (Williams & Grosholz, 2002; Anderson, 2005; SCCAT accessed 1 February 2011).

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Trophic Strategy

Photosynthesis.  Capable of enhancing N2 fixation, giving it another competitive advantage in nutrient-poor waters.

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Reproduction

In its native tropics, it reproduces sexually and vegetatively.  In its invasive range in the Mediterranean, all reproduction is believed to be via thallis fragmentation.  Though male gametes are produced (synchronously) there are no female gametes, suggesting this population is an all-male clone (Žuljević & Antolić, 2000).

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Relevance

Risk Statement

Highly invasive, spreading rapidly and leading to reduced numbers and diversity of other algae, invertebrates, and fish (Bourdouresque et al., 1995; Balata et al., 2004).

Vectors for introduction: ornamental aquaria (public and private), fisheries and aquaculture, natural dispersal from introduced populations, vessels (NIMPIS 2011, Caulerpa taxifolia general information, National Introduced Marine Pest Information System, viewed 29 January 2011 <http://www.marinepests.gov.au/nimpis>).

See also: Southern California Caulerpa Action Team

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Uses

Popular aquarium plant in both private and public aquaria.

Caulerpenyne, the major metabolite present in Caulerpa taxifolia, may have anti-tumor activity (Fischel et al., 1995).

Author(s): Soulanille, Elaine
Rights holder(s): Soulanille, Elaine

Taxonomy

  • Fucus taxifolius M. Vahl (synonym)

References

Amade, P., & Lemée R. (1998).  Chemical defence of the mediterranean alga Caulerpa taxifolia: variations in caulerpenyne production. Aquatic Toxicology. 43(4), 287 - 300. Abstract
Anderson, L. W. J. (2005).  California’s Reaction to Caulerpa taxifolia: A Model for Invasive Species Rapid Response*. Biological Invasions. 7(6), 1003 - 1016. Abstract
Balata, D., Piazzi L., & Cinelli F. (2004).  A Comparison Among Assemblages in Areas Invaded by Caulerpa taxifolia and C. racemosa on a Subtidal Mediterranean Rocky Bottom. Marine Ecology. 25(1), 1 - 13. Abstract
Barbier, P., Huitorel P., Amade P., Pesando D., Briand C., & Peyrot V. (2001).  Caulerpenyne from Caulerpa taxifolia has an antiproliferative activity on tumor cell line SK-N-SH and modifies the microtubule network. Life Sciences. 70(4), 415 - 429. Abstract
Belsher, T., & Meinesz A. (1995).  Deep-water dispersal of the tropical alga Caulerpa taxifolia introduced into the Mediterranean. Aquatic Botany. 51(1-2), 163 - 169. Abstract
Benzie, J., Ballment E., Chisholm J. R. M., & Jaubert J. M. (2000).  Genetic variation in the green alga Caulerpa taxifolia. Aquatic Botany. 66(2), 131 - 139. Abstract
Boudouresque, C. F., Meinesz A., Ribera M. A., & Ballesteros E. (1995).  Spread of the green alga Caulerpa taxifolia (Caulerpales, Chlorophyta) in the Mediterranean: possible consequences of a major ecological event. Scientia Marina. 59, 21-29.
Ceccherelli, G., & Cinelli F. (1999).  Effects of Posidonia oceanica canopy on Caulerpa taxifolia size in a north-western Mediterranean bay. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 240(1), 19 - 36. Abstract
Chisholm, J. R. M., & Moulin P. (2003).  Stimulation of Nitrogen Fixation in Refractory Organic Sediments by Caulerpa taxifolia (Chlorophyta). Limnology and Oceanography. 48, 787-794. Abstract
Delgado, O., Rodríguez-Prieto C., Gacia E., & Ballesteros E. (1996).  Lack of Severe Nutrient Limitation in Caulerpa taxifolia (Vahl) C. Agardh, an Introduced Seaweed Spreading over the Oligotrophic Northwestern Mediterranean. Botanica Marina. 39(1-6), 61 - 68.
Fischel, J. L., R Lemee, Formento P., Caldani C., Moll J. L., Pesando D., et al. (1995).  Cell growth inhibitory effects of Caulerpenyne, a sesquiterpenoid from the marine algae Caulerpa taxifolia. Anticancer Research. 15, 2155-2160. Abstract
Francour, P., Harmelin-Vivien M., Harmelin J. G., & Duclerc J. (1995).  Impact of Caulerpa taxifolia colonization on the littoral ichthyofauna of North-Western Mediterranean sea: preliminary results. Hydrobiologia. 300-301(1), 345 - 353. Abstract
Hill, D., Coquillard P., de Vaugelas J., & Meinesz A. (1998).  An algorithmic model for invasive species: Application to Caulerpa taxifolia (Vahl) C. Agardh development in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea. Ecological Modelling. 109(3), 251 - 266. Abstract
Jousson, O., Pawlowski J., Zaninetti L., Meinesz A., & Boudouresque CF. (1998).  Molecular evidence for the aquarium origin of the green alga Caulerpa taxifolia introduced to the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 172, 275 - 280. Abstract
Komatsu, T., Meinesz A., & Buckles D. (1997).  Temperature and light responses of alga Caulerpa taxifolia introduced into the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 146, 145 - 153. Abstract
Meinesz, A., Belsher T., Thibaut T., Antolic B., Mustapha K B., Boudouresque C-F., et al. (2001).  The Introduced Green Alga Caulerpa Taxifolia Continues to Spread in the Mediterranean. Biological Invasions. 3(2), 201 - 210. Abstract
Meusnier, I., Olsen J. L., Stam W. T., Destombe C., & Valero M. (2001).  Phylogenetic analyses of Caulerpa taxifolia (Chlorophyta) and of its associated bacterial microflora provide clues to the origin of the Mediterranean introduction. Molecular Ecology. 10(4), 931 - 946. Abstract
Santini-Bellan, D., Arnaud P. M., Bellan G., & Verlaque M. (1996).  The Influence of The Introduced Tropical Alga Caulerpa Taxifolia, on the Biodiversity of the Mediterranean Marine Biota. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 76(01), 235. Abstract
Schaffelke, B., Murphy N., & Uthicke S. (2002).  Using genetic techniques to investigate the sources of the invasive alga in three new locations in Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 44(3), 204 - 210. Abstract
Wiedenmann, J., Baumstark A., Pillen T. L., Meinesz A., & Vogel W. (2001).  DNA fingerprints of Caulerpa taxifolia provide evidence for the introduction of an aquarium strain into the Mediterranean Sea and its close relationship to an Australian population. Marine Biology. 138(2), 229 - 234. Abstract
Williams, S. L., & Grosholz E. D. (2002).  Preliminary reports from the Caulerpa taxifolia invasion in southern California. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 233, 307 - 310. Abstract
Z[breve]uljevic, A., Thibaut T., Elloukal H., & Meinesz A. (2001).  Sea slug disperses the invasive Caulerpa taxifolia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK. 81, 343-344. Abstract
Žuljević, A., & Antolić B. (2000).  Synchronous release of male gametes of Caulerpa taxifolia (Caulerpales, Chlorophyta) in the Mediterranean Sea. Phycologia. 39(2), 157 - 159. Abstract