Armored Krelp

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The armored krelp came about when krelp spores germinated on land. Most died to desiccation, but others exhibited traits that allowed them to survive. The first trait was armored segments, which covered most of the mycelial stem, reducing the amount of water lost. Another trait was a tough, leathery epidermis covered in stomata, which prevented desiccation in areas that were not covered in plates. The flotation crystal is now significantly larger and is filled with methane. The final trait is a network of ‘hyphal bundles’. Hyphal bundles are hyphae-based tubes that transfer nutrients, enzymes, and water across the armored krelp. There are three systems of hyphal bundles, with each transporting one of the previously mentioned resources. These systems are all interconnected and often intertwined into large, braid-like bundles that lie just below the epidermis.

While the armored krelp does spend its entire life on land, its life cycle is still inexorably linked to the water. When high amounts of rain fall, the armored krelp will release its gametes, which will fall to the ground. These flagellated, isogamous gametes will then swim through the substrate and fuse with the first gamete of the opposite sex they come across. These gametes will form the mycelium, which will rapidly expand through the substrate, feeding on any form of organic matter it comes across. After the mycelium reaches the surface, it will then grow a photosynthetic flotation crystal. This crystal will support the armored krelp while simultaneously providing the carbon it needs to grow further. The armored krelp will then slowly grow taller, adding three new segments each year, with the third segment bearing a pair of photosynthetic crystals. Upon reaching its maximum size, the armored krelp will then form a whorl of four reproductive crystals at the top of the plant. Armored krelp often live longer lives than their ancestor, as they no longer die off during the winter.