Algal bloom in the Baltic Sea

As the spring warms the sea and life reawakes after the winter, algal blooms (sometimes overfed by nutrient runoff from over fertilised fields) form, often creating beautiful patterns, but the deep green swirls of this one in the Baltic has an almost surreal cosmic air, resembling some nebula out in deep space or a serious attack of aurora borealis… until one minds the track of the boat ploughing through from the top centre of the photo towards the bottom left. What a beautiful world!


Image credit: ESA


Mermaid’s Wine glasses - Acetabularia acetabulum 

These structures with aspect of satellite dishes are in fact green algae scientifically named Acetabularia acetabulum (Dasycladales - Polyphysaceae), and incredibly, each is a gigantic, single-celled organism

In general, single-celled organisms are very small, but Acetabularia acetabulum can grow to 10 cm. This implies that it is a giant green alga, and because of these characteristics and some other remarkable particularities, is considered as a model organism that is widely used in genetic and molecular studies.

These algae, which are found in subtropical seas, consist of a slender stalk that is usually attached to a rock surface by a rhizoid and which ends in a lobate umbrella-like cap. A large nucleus (50 − 120 μm in diameter) is located at the rhizoid. This nucleus divides repeatedly as the alga matures and the daughter nuclei are carried upward by cytoplasmic streaming to end up in each of the lobes of the cap.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credits: [Top: ©Antoni López-Arenas | Locality: Cala del Torrent del Pi, l'Ametlla de Mar, Catalonia, 2009] - [Bottom: ©Philipp Kanstinger | Locality: Mediterranean Sea, Greece, 2006]

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World’s First Urban Algae Canopy Produces the Oxygen Equivalent of Four Hectares of Woodland Every Day

The Urban Algae Canopy by ecoLogic Studio is a piece of bio-digital architecture that combines micro-algal cultures and real time digital cultivation protocols. To be displayed at Expo Milano 2015, the structure is able to control the flow of energy, water and carbon dioxide based on weather patterns, visitor’s movements, and other environmental variables. It’s the first of its kind in the world, and once fully completed, the canopy will be able to produce the oxygen equivalent of four hectares of woodland, along with nearly 330 pounds of biomass per day.

Gifts for Gardeners

#50: A Marimo

Often incorrectly called a “moss ball,” a marimo is actually a filamentous green algae (Aegagropila linnaei) that naturally grows in a ball-like shape.

These bundles are adapted to life at the bottom of cool freshwater lakes, with a minimal level of light. Those qualities have made them an ideal aquascaping specimen, as they can be cultivated under normal indoor light conditions.

Many people keep a marimo as a sort of low-maintenance “pet” in an office, bedroom, or other low-light environment - the water needs to be changed every so often, but other than that, this cute little ball of algae will likely grow a few millimetres every year with very little intervention.

Image: Hinterland Trading


The future of furniture might also be the future of food. Or is that the other way around? Designers are increasingly turning to microalgae, which is effectively a “liquid plant,” because it can be suspended in fluid and utilized as a design material as well as harnessed for its food production qualities. The Living Things installation is one such project, a partnership between architectural designer Jacob Douenias and industrial designer Ethan Frier, for the express purpose of creating furniture that, well, creates. In this case, the result is photosynthetic furniture filled with tiny, edible bacteria that also function as luminous light sources.



Ascomycetes, Cyrotoidea, Acanthophracta, Blastodea, Teleostei, Siphonophorae, Cubomedusae, Echinidea and Platodes from Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature), 1899-1904.


Happy ‪#‎SeaweedSunday‬! Today, we’re taking a slow-motion dive through our Kelp Forest exhibit, the first of its kind in the world and home to over 30 species of local, homegrown algae. This exhibit’s filled with rich seawater from Monterey Bay, containing algal spores that settle and grow on the walls. For more elegant algae, check out our Kelp Forest webcam.
Algae has been engineered to kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells unharmed
90% of cancer cells destroyed!
By Signe Dean

Scientists have genetically engineered tiny algae to kill up to 90 percent of cancer cells in the lab, while leaving healthy ones unharmed, and the treatment has also been shown to effectively treat tumours in mice without doing damage to the rest of the body.

Developing medicine that only attacks tumour cells and leaves the rest of the body alone is one of the biggest challenges in cancer drug therapy. Such targeted chemotherapy helps to avoid some of the devastating side-effects associated with typical chemo treatment, when all fast-dividing cells in the body are bombarded with toxic drugs – including hair follicles, nails, and bone marrow.

That’s why researchers have been working on nanoparticle-based cancer drug delivery, and have been sending drug-loaded, porous silica particles into the body to target tumour cells. However, the manufacturing of these types of nanoparticles is expensive and requires industrial chemicals, such as hydrofluoric acid.

Now an international team of scientists from Australia and Germany have genetically engineered a diatom algae that can get the synthetic nanoparticle job done just as nicely.

Continue Reading.


Several plates from Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg’s Die Infusionsthierchen als Vollkomene Organismen. These drawing are showing various types of protozoa (more often simply called algae), which Ehrenberg observed under his microscope. 

A full library of Ehrenberg’s books and drawings can be found here. I could spend hours looking at all those illustrations, the fact that there’s a whole hidden world which surrounds us but we are more or less completely oblivious to it just amazes me everyday. 

Cnidarian-Algae Symbiosis

Coral reefs constitute extremely diverse ecosystems, with one dependency for health the functional symbiosis between a cnidarian animal host (the coral) and intracellular photosynthetic dinoflagellate algae. These ecosystems are in decline likely due to global warming, acidification of the seas, and pollution, in general. The work of Baumgarten et al. cited below will enable a model of coral-algae sysbiosis essential for reef health.

Kaust Discovery: Image above &  “Analysis of the complete genome for the sea anemone Aiptasia helps in the understanding of cnidarian-algae symbiosis. Findings include a new class of proteins and groups of inherited genes coming from the algae, and suggest that Aiptasia can be a viable model for studying coral-algae symbiosis.”

Symbiosis occurs when two separate organisms work closely together to survive. Coral polyps (Phylum Cnidaria) depend on symbiosis with a specific alga living within their tissues to maintain a healthy coral colony. The underlying mechanisms of this symbiotic relationship are little-known, partly due to the immense difficulties of carrying out experiments on live coral reefs.

The researchers were also surprised by the number of genes in Aiptasia that appear to be inherited from its algal (and also bacterial) symbionts.

Baumgarten, S., Simakov, O., Esherick, L.Y., Liew, Y.J., Lehnert, E. et al. The genome of Aiptasia, a sea anemone model for coral biology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published ahead of print August 31, 2015

Ari Jónsson uses algae to create biodegradable water bottles

DesignMarch 2016: product design student Ari Jónsson has combined red algae powder with water to create a biodegradable bottle.

Jónsson – who studies at the Iceland Academy of the Arts – exhibited the project during this year’s Reykjavik design festival DesignMarch from 10 to 13 March 2016.

After reading about the amount of waste plastic produced every day, the designer felt an “urgent” need to develop a replacement material.

“I read that 50 per cent of plastic is used once and then thrown away so I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use and throw away each day,” Jónsson told Dezeen. “Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?”

He began studying the strengths and weaknesses of different materials to determine what could be suitable for use as a water bottle. Eventually he came across a powdered form of agar, a substance made from algae.

When agar powder is added to water, it forms a jelly-like material. After experimenting to find the right proportions, Jónsson slowly heated the substance before pouring it into a bottle-shaped mould that had been kept in the freezer.

He then rotated the mould while submerged in a bucket of ice-cold water, until the liquid inside has taken the shape of the bottle.

It was then placed in a refrigerator for a few minutes before the agar bottle was extracted from the mould.

As long as the bottle is full of water, it will keep its shape, but as soon as it is empty – it will begin to decompose.

“If it fails, or if the bottom is too thin or it has a hole in it, I can just reheat it and pour it into the mould again,” said Jónsson.

As the bottle is made from 100 per cent natural materials, the water stored inside it is safe to drink – although Jónsson noted that after a while it may extract a small amount of taste from the bottle.

He even suggested that if the user likes the taste, they should bite the bottle itself when you have finished drinking.

Read more here.

Provided by Dezeen

This Algae Farm Eats Pollution From the Highway Below It

A highway overpass is the last place most of us would think to install a farm. But algae, that wonderful little ecological miracle, is different. Since it consumes sunlight and CO2 and spits out oxygen, places with high emissions are actually the perfect growing area. Which is why this overpass in Switzerland has its own algae farm.

Built this summer as part of a festival in Genève, the farm is actually fairly simple: It thrives on the emissions of cars that pass below it, augmented by sunlight. A series of pumps and filters regulate the system, and over time, the algae matures into what can be turned into any number of usable products. According to the designers behind it, the Dutch and French design firmCloud Collective, those uses can range from combustable biomass to material for use in cosmetics and other consumer-facing products.