I see a lot of science stuff, and it’s pretty hard to get me to say “wow” … Just kidding, I say it all the time!
Definitely said it when I saw this brain-melting illustration of the scale differences between the domains of life. In one electron microscope picture!! Just remember, there’s about a trillion of those little bacteria on and in you all the time, just that tiny.
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.
WHAT’S THAT? Diatoms are tiny, mostly single-celled algae that live in water. They’re known for their mesmerizing shapes and symmetry, but don’t let their beauty fool you: these guys contribute up to 45% of the ocean’s total source of organic nutrients and 20% of the oxygen you breathe.
WHAT’S THE LATEST? Recent research has found that diatoms are sensitive to their climates. Warmer climates throughout Earth’s history have caused a decrease in diatom diversity. It’s believed that warming climates now will jeopardize the extinction of a large number of diatoms, which could harm worldwide ecosystems and food chains that humans depend on. Scientists warn it’s still too early to extrapolate this data to manmade global warming.
Most plankton are tiny drifters, wandering in a vast ocean. But where wind and currents converge they become part of a grander story… an explosion of vitality that affects all life on Earth, including our own. Watch the latest “Deep Look” video from KQED and pbsdigitalstudios:
Geometric Diatom, a microscopic alga, has a silica-coated wall comprised of two overlapping halves, like a box with a lid. Normally golden-brown, it has rainbow hues in this photograph because of the refraction of light.
Color Coded This color-enhanced microscopic image shows a diatom, a tiny, single-celled organism found in oceans, fresh water and soil. Researchers are working to exploit the light-altering properties of diatom shells, for use in commercial products such as paint and cosmetics.
oo28oo requested some eukaryotic algae pictures, so I figured I’d post some of my favorite ones I’ve found over the years! The individual names of the algae will pop up if you click on the photos
As I mentioned before, many of these algae came from slimy and disgusting clumps of pond scum. They usually smelled pretty horrible, too! It’s only when you look at them under the microscope that you see the true beauty.
Edit: shout out to Pepperofthenickel for identifying the Scenedesmus in the bottom left as Scenedesmus dimorphus!
Winner of Honorable Mention in Olympus’ BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition® of 2010.
Shown here is the polarized light micrograph of a Diatom arachnoidiscus. Diatoms encase themselves in an outer cell wall called a frustule, which is composed of silica, or glass. Although these glass frustules provide diatoms with structure and defense, they are also extremely beautiful.
By Michael Shribak, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, USA
This almost looks like a watercolour painting, but it is a true colour photograph taken from NASA’s Aqua Satellite on the 31st of August, 2010.
The striking swirls of turquoise, teal, navy and green are a result of a massive phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea. The variation in colour is attributed to the diversity of plankton species within the bloom. The bright blue colours are consistent with coccolithophores, a type of phytoplankton that is coated in an opaque shell that reflects light, turning the ocean a velvety turquoise. The green colours in this image are the result of diatoms, another type of phytoplankton.