Document Detail

Indefatigable: an erect coralline alga is highly resistant to fatigue.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  24068348     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
Intertidal organisms are subjected to intense hydrodynamic forces as waves break on the shore. These repeated insults can cause a plant or animal's structural materials to fatigue and fail, even though no single force would be sufficient to break the organism. Indeed, the survivorship and maximum size of at least one species of seaweed is set by the accumulated effects of small forces rather than the catastrophic imposition of a single lethal force. One might suppose that fatigue would be especially potent in articulated coralline algae, in which the strain of the entire structure is concentrated in localized joints, the genicula. However, previous studies of joint morphology suggest an alternative hypothesis. Each geniculum is composed of a single tier of cells, which are attached at their ends to the calcified segments of the plant (the intergenicula) but have minimal connection to each other along their lengths. This lack of neighborly attachment potentially allows the weak interfaces between cells to act as 'crack stoppers', inhibiting the growth of fatigue cracks. We tested this possibility by repeatedly loading fronds of Calliarthron cheilosporioides, a coralline alga common on wave-washed shores in California. When repeatedly loaded to 50-80% of its breaking strength, C. cheilosporioides commonly survives more than a million stress cycles, with a record of 51 million. We show how this extraordinary fatigue resistance interacts with the distribution of wave-induced water velocities to set the limits to size in this species.
Mark Denny; Katharine Mach; Sarah Tepler; Patrick Martone
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  216     ISSN:  1477-9145     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2013 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-09-26     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  3772-80     Citation Subset:  IM    
Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA.
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