Algae, embroidered

Amblystoma maculata, Spotted Salamander egg mass.  2 inch by 2 inch. Or maybe 3. Anyway, it's life sized. 14 pt cotton on cotton.

Amblystoma maculata, Spotted Salamander egg mass. 2 inch by 2 inch. Or maybe 3. Anyway, it’s life sized. 14 pt cotton on cotton.

Oophila amblystomatis, which translates as the amblystoma infecting egg loving algae, is a fresh water algae which grows in ponds and ditches. It seems to be mostly found in North America. When the ponds dry up, it will form a cyst and lay dormant in the soil. When water reappears, it will rehydrate, return to life, and start moving about in an unclear method but you can imagine some zombie like grunting if you would like to. On finding an appropriate amphibian egg mass, it will move through the egg jelly, some eventually reaching the egg and settling in the embryonic amphibian’s cells. This is not bad for either the amphibian or the algae, as the algae will use up the CO2 and poisonous nitrogen compounds from the embryo, returning O2 and useful carbon and nitrogen to the embryo. One of those symbiosis thingies. So these are helpful zombies, come back from the dead to convert your biological wastes to pie. Cool, eh?

April 3

A. maculata egg mass after most of the larva have hatched out. It is the same mass depicted in the cross stitched egg mass.

Hence this embroidery depicting a spotted salamander egg mass has green eggs instead of clearish ones. If it weren’t for the algae, the would be clear. But no, they’re sort of greenish. It’s an important distinction.

You can see the algae within the eggs pretty easily. This mass was mostly kept in a dim house, so the algae did not grow very vigorously. And even though there is algae within the egg jelly (the not egg part of the mass), you can see that the algae is growing more within the eggs themselves, where there is a source of nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the embryo.


“Oophila amblystomatis.” Encyclopedia of Life, available from Accessed April 14, 2015.

Graham, E. Fay, S., Davey, A. and Sanders, R.(2014) Intracapsular algae provide fixed carbon to developing embryos of the salamander Ambystoma maculatum. The Journal of Experimental Biology 216, 452-459.

Orr, H. (1888). Note on the development of amphibians, chiefly concerning the central
nervous system; with additional observations on the hypophysis, mouth, and the
appendages and skeleton of the head. Quarterly Journal of Microbiology Sciences. N.S. 29, 295-324.

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