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1 Energy and Wetlands Research Group,
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-560 012, INDIA
Email: cestvr@ces.iisc.ernet.in,   energy@ces.iisc.ernet.in

2 FEIS FRA, Harmful Algae Control Section, 2-17-5 Maruishi, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0452, JAPAN

3 Botany Department, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK

Diatom Research (2009), volume 24(1), 233-236     

The genus Ceratoneis Ehrenberg as listed in the online Catalogue of Diatom Names (2007) have 103 names, if redundancy of duplicated entries is ignored. It seems quite possible that most, if not all, of these taxa (and associated names) will end up in different genera, if they have not already been transferred. Many of the freshwater species of Ceratoneis are better placed in Hannaea R.Patr. (although some understand it as synonymous with Fragilaria Lyng., e.g. Krammer & Lange-Bertalot, 1991, 2000), the marine species better placed in Cylindrothecea Rabenh. (Medlin & Mann 2007). In short, Ceratoneis has been used as a ‘dumping ground’ for many unrelated species that happen to have curved valves and, usually, a central area on the concave side. To make matters worse, typification of Ceratoneis is controversial and still being debated (Jahn & Kusber 2005, Medlin & Mann 2007). This paper can (mercifully) avoid these contentious issues as we discuss only specimens named as the new species Ceratoneis iyengarii Gonzalves & Gandhi, a taxon described some 50 plus years ago from a brackish water locality in Mahim Creek, Mumbai (then Bombay), India (Gonzalves & Gandhi 1952). The original Latin description provided by Gonzalves & Gandhi is given in Figure 1; the English translation provided is as follows:

Frustules solitary, free-floating. Valves vary strongly arcuate with a prominent gibbosity in the middle of the concave side, tapering very slightly from the middle towards the poles which are broadly rounded. Raphe absent on both valves. Pseudoraphe uniformly broad and distinct, somewhat excentrical. Unilateral central area present, but marked with indistinct scattered puncta. Striae radial and distinctly punctuate” (Gonzalves & Gandhi 1952, p. 123).

Given the characters usually associated with species of Ceratoneis (curved valves and, usually, a central area on the concave side); it is no surprise these specimens ended up there. Only one figure was provided (Gonzalves & Gandhi 1952, p. 124, fig. 11), reproduced here as Figure 2, rotated through 180o. Gonzalves & Gandhi (1952) cite no particular specimens in the protologue, none that might be interpreted as types (Gonzalves & Gandhi 1952, p. 123, describe it as 'rare').

Figure 1: Reproduction of the Latin description of Ceratoneis iyengarii (Gonzalves & Gandhi 1952, p. 123).

In 2006 Gandhi’s entire diatom collection was donated to the Energy and Wetlands Research Group at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India and a programme of collection development is being implemented, which will include typifying Gandhi’s taxa well as digitizing the specimens and many drawings. Among the slides, a specimen of Ceratoneis iyengarii was found on Slide No CESH-5-92 (Dharavi rd [road], [Mahim Creek], brackish water, 23-12-45) that resembled the illustration in Gonzalves & Gandhi (1952, fig.1).

Gonzalves & Gandhi (1952, p. 123) provided some basic dimensions, which were compared to the specimen found on No. CESH-5-92 suggesting that they are of similar dimensions:

  Gonzalves & Gandhi Specimen on CESH-5-92
Length 63—67μm 69μm
Breadth 12.6—13μm Poles: 10.5μm;     Centre: 12.3μm
Striae 8 in 10μm 10 in 10μm

This specimen is best considered as lectotype. It is clear that the specimen is neither a species of Hannaea nor Cylindrothecea, while both values of the frustule are curved, they differ in structure from each other: the image is actually of a developing frustule of a species of Achnanthes Bory. The frustule illustrated in Figures 3—6, the lectotype, is of an initial araphid valve (Fig. 3a) coupled with the perizonium of the raphid valve (fig. 3b) – the raphid initial cell is not yet formed. Further specimens, from slide no CESH-5-94 ((Dharavi rd [road], [Mahim Creek], brackish water, 23-12-45), also show what appears to be a possibly deformed araphid valve (Fig. 7; maybe a vegetative cell?) and an initial araphid valve also from a species of Achnanthes (Fig. 8).

Comparison of our Figures 3-6 with Sabbe et al. (2004, fig. 42), who illustrate the central and lateral bands of the longitudinal perizonium of Achnanthes cf. subsessilis, show a certain identity in structure and position ( see also Roshchin and Chepurnov 1993, for Achnanthes brevipes var. intermedia (Kutz.) Cleve; Mizuno, 1994 for Achnanthes javanica f. subconstricta (Meister) Hust.; Toyoda et al.2005, for Achnanthes yaquinensis McIntire and Reimer; and Toyoda et al. 2006, figs 26-28 for illustrations of the perizonium and initial values of Achnanthes crenulata Grunow). As for the deformed araphid value in our Figure 7, a similar value for Achnanthes longipes C.A. Agardh was illustrated in Chepurnov and Mann (1999, p. 3), who note "Even during expansion, it was not uncomman for one auxospore to abort in each pair. The contents of such auxospores looked abnormal (Fig. 1) and they never developed into initial cells" (for further details see Roshchin and Chepurnov 1992 and Chepurnov and Mann 1997).

Figs 2-6. Figure 2: Reproduction of Figure 11 (rotated through 1800) of Ceratoneis iyengarii(Gonzalves & Gandhi 1952, p. 123, fig. 11).
Figure 3-6: Lectotype specimen (CES92, Dharavi rd [road], brackish water, 23-12-45) of Ceratoneis iyengarii: an initial araphid valve (a), the perizonium of the raphid valve (b). Length 69μm, breadth poles 10.5μm, centre 12.3μm, striae 10 in 10μm.

Figure 7: 1st specimen from CES94 (Dharavi rd [road], brackish water, 23-12-45), possibly a deformed araphid valve, a vegetative cell? Length 50.3μm, breadth poles 7.3μm, centre 9.7μm, striae 8 in 10μm.
Figure 8: 2nd specimen from CES94 (Dharavi rd [road], brackish water, 23-12-45), an initial araphid valve of a species of Achnanthes. Length 74.6μm, breadth poles (upper) 8.1μm, (lower) 6.8μm, centre 12.1μm, striae 8 in 10μm.

Thus, we conclude that Ceratoneis iyengarii is a name that refers to the early part of the life-cycle of an as yet unidentified species of Achnanthes and its record should be adjusted accordingly for the diatom flora of India.

We are grateful to H. P. Gandhi and his family for donating the slides to Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Bangalore. Authors from IISc thank the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Environment and Forests, GOI for the financial assistance for setting up diatom collections.


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MEDLIN, L. K. & MANN, D. G. (2007). Proposal to conserve the name Cylindrotheca against Ceratoneis (Bacillariophyceae). Taxon 56: 953—955 (see erratum in Taxon, 56, 1307).

MIZUNO, H. (1994). Sexual reproduction and auxospore formation in Achnanthes javanica f. subconstricta, Diatom Research, 9, 133-141.

ROSHCHIN, A. M. & CHEPURNOV, V. A. (1992). Vegetative cell enlargement in life cycles of Achnanthes longipes Ag. (Bacillariophyta). Algologiya, 2, 26-32.

ROSHCHIN, A. M. & CHEPURNOV, V. A. (1993). Auxospore formation in clonal cultures of Achnanthes brevipes var. intermedia (Kutz.) CI. (Bacillariophyta). Algologiya, 3, 19-22.

SABBE, K., CHEPURNOV, V. A., VYVERMAN, W. & MANN, D. G. (2004). Apomixis in Achnanthes (Bacillariophyceae); development of a model system for diatom reproductive biology. European Journal of Phycology, 39, 327-341.

TOYODA, K., IDEI, M., NAGUMO, T. & TANAKA, J. (2005). Fine-structure of the vegetative frustule, perizonium and initial value of Achnanthes yaquinensis (Bacillariophyta) European Journal of Phycology, 40, 269-279.

TOYODA, K., WILLIAMS, D.M., TANAKA, J. & NAGUMO, T. (2006). Morphological investigations of the frustule, perizonium and initial valves of the freshwater diatom Achnanthes crenulata Grunow (Bacillariophyceae) Phycological Research 54: 173–182.

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