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fredag 1 april 2011

Travels in time and space in microalgae

Yesterday CAnMove member Karin Rengefors was invited to speak at a SACT (Scientific Activities group) seminar. She was first introduced by the next speaker, Lars Hederstedt and then it was time for us to hear all about the tiny phytoplankton/microalgae and their fascinating life.

The background to her research are the well-known algal blooms that occur in both lakes and at sea every year. The different types of microalgae vary in both color, size and shape. Microalgae are not one genetic lineage but are composed of both eukaryotic and prokaryotic lineages, which also explains their diversity.

Phytoplankton have a planktonic phase where they live in the water and a benthic phase where they form cysts and live on the sea bottom, waiting for the right time to become a plankton again and reproduce.

Polarella glacialis (Dinophyceae) photographed by Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). (a) planktonic cell, (b) benthic resting cyst
During their planktonic phase they migrate actively in time (seasonal and diel migration) to avoid unfavorable environmental conditions, competition with other microalgae, predators and to reproduce. During their benthic phase they perform passive migration in space with the help of flowing water, wind, birds and insects.

You can learn more about Karins research here

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