SUMMARY: The effects of water potential on the photosynthesis, growth and viability of natural populations and laboratory cultures of were measured. was very sensitive to reduced water potential, matric reduction being more harmful than osmotic. The distribution of this alga in different soil areas appeared to be related to the sensitivity to water stress, larger populations being found in areas with higher water potential.

There are very steep gradients of water potential in the soils where is found. The water potential of the surface crust is much too low to allow growth and is found in a subsurface layer. The reduced light intensity below the soil surface interacts with the increased water potential to define the position of the algal layer.


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