We attempted to propagate Macrocystis integrifolia (giant kelp) by fragmentation and regeneration of holdfasts, which consist of creeping stolons with lateral haptera. Stolons from a natural kelp population in Bahia Chasco (Atacama, North Chile) were cut into fragments, each containing one or more lateral stipe and frond initials. Fragments were attached to longlines with elastic bands. We used two additional types of inoculants as controls: (1) natural recruits from the local parent population and (2) laboratory-cultured young sporophytes. Length, reproductive phenology, and mortality were determined monthly. Our results confirmed the feasibility of M. integrifolia propagation by reattachment of stolon fragments, and we obtained up to eight new individuals from one parent holdfast. Individuals from holdfast regeneration formed sporangial sori 3 months earlier than control specimens from recruits and laboratory culture, while all three types gave similar values for mortality. Holdfast morphology of regenerates differed strongly depending on their origin: stolon fragments continued growth and developed new haptera except in the cut surfaces, natural recruits formed typical M. integrifolia holdfast morphs, and sporophytes originating from laboratory culture produced minor stolons with many haptera. Implications of our results on ecology, repopulation, and aquaculture are discussed.
Westermeier, R., Murúa, P., Patiño, D. J., Muñoz, L., Ruiz, A., Atero, C., & Müller, D. G. (2013). Utilization of holdfast fragments for vegetative propagation of Macrocystis integrifolia in Atacama, Northern Chile. Journal of Applied Phycology, 25(2), 639-642. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-012-9898-x