The Closterium peracerosum-strigosum-littorale (C. psl.) complex is the best characterized charophycean alga with respect to the processes of sexual reproduction. We examined the effect of concanavalin A (Con A) on physiological and ultrastructural changes during the conjugation of the C. psl. complex. Two heterothallic gametangial cells formed a sexual pair as usual; however, the release of gametes was completely blocked by the addition of Con A. Fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled Con A bound to the outermost layer of the conjugation papillae of paired cells. In the absence of Con A, the disruption of outer cell walls on the conjugation papillae and the secretion of fibrous materials from the conjugation papillae were observed using a transmission electron microscope, but Con A-treated cells did not show these changes. Instead, a highly electron-dense layer was observed in the outermost papillae, and the excess fibrous materials remained at the inside of the layer. These results suggest that an unknown molecule(s) recognized by Con A is essential for the diffusion of fibrous materials at the conjugation papillae, which is an indispensable step for gamete release during conjugation of the C. psl. complex.
Keywords: Closterium; Concanavalin A (Con A); charophycean; conjugation; gamete; sexual reproduction.