Dynamic Traffic of Wolffia Consortia from Sediment to Surface of a Eutrophic Pond

Michael Witty


Wolffia columbiana are duckweeds that inhabit freshwater ponds along with single celled algal species and these very small flowering plants often dominate the surface layer of undisturbed ponds. This upper layer of plant material fatally shades out lower species of plants and algae. Some epiphytic algae have adapted to benefit from the dominance of Wolffia columbiana by attaching themselves with various degrees of firmness to this duckweed. The epiphytic lifestyle has the advantage of avoiding shading out and an additional advantage which becomes apparent in Winter i.e. when Wolffia columbiana submerge to avoid frost damage. In this season their epiphytes are carried with them from the most favorable position in the water column for spring and summer, the surface, to the most favorable position in the water column for the winter, the sediment debris layer. This is an example of dynamic epiphytic symbiosis, rather than the conventional static association of epiphytes and deciduous trees which only lasts for one growing season and results in death of algal epiphytes in Fall.


Wolffia columbiana; Fragilaria; Stauroforma; Lemnicola; Synedra; Epiphyte

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