Not all of water-based life lives in ponds, ditches, and lakes. In this damp climate, there is water everywhere except in the driest season – within cracks in tree bark, in moss, on rain-drenched leaves, and in the damp of the forest floor.
DESMID GELS ON MOSS:
While hiking around midnight in our constant rain on misty Mount Richards, I noted this gelatinous mass on a dripping mossy rock face:
I believe that this is the desmid Mesotaenium, which is known to grown on mossy rocks with a constant water supply:
It has been documented in both England and the Netherlands, and consists of dispersed cells in a mucilaginous matrix forming a gelatinous mass among moss stalks. Note that there
Mesotaenium in Gel Matrix, 40X. Note smaller desmid species barely visible in background.
is also a population of smaller algae, likely also desmids, seen at 400X together with one Mesotaenium cell.
Images of the larger desmid species show shape and chloroplast structure typical of Mestaerium:
In some images, the refractile mucilaginous sheath surrounding individual clusters of desmid cells is visible:
This is a link to an older but informative article discussing mucilaginous algae as well as 1980s theorizing about diatom movement – 1980s knowledge and one of the more pompous and verbose articles in the literature (“…palmelloid cell masses of coccolithophorids…”), but also very infomative:
Note on pages 120-122 the comments on the significant role played by mucilaginous gels in Mesotaenium and other algae:
as well as the potential size of some of these sheets of algal gel habitats:
Nice result from my mountainous wanderings with a headlamp at midnight in the cloud layer.
If you explore all possible things that are common and unnoticed, the world will never a boring place.
I have one old car – a beloved 1993 Mercury Topaz bought for a dollar from my uncle’s estate, 22 years old and with only 60,000 miles on the odometer. From the era when Detroit thought it could build cars from rubber bands and old sardine tins, it is grossly underpowered, occasionally blows a tired old engine seal, and has a back window that repeatedly leaks – yet it has proven to be a faithful and undemanding servant. After a few months of continuous rain, its rubber window seals turn green with a film of algae.