halophile

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Salt Pond Ecosystem

The color of salt ponds range from pale green to deep coral pink, and indicate the salinity of the ponds. Microorganisms create these spectacular colors, changing their own hues in response to increasing salinity.

In low-to mid-salinity ponds, green algae proliferate and lend the water a green cast. As the salinity increases, an algae called Dunaliella out-competes other microorganisms in the pond, and the color shifts to an even lighter shade of green. In mid-salinity ponds, millions of tiny brine shrimp clarify the brine and contribute an orange cast to the water. And in mid-to high-salinity ponds, high salt concentrations actually trigger the Dunaliella to produce a red carotenoid pigment. Halophiles, such as Halobacteria and Stichococcus, also contribute red tints to the hypersaline brine.

Kite aerial photographs by Charles “Cris” Benton.

Cakile maritima
31/08/2014
Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Genus: Cakile
Species: C. maritima
Common Name: Sea Rocket
Location: NT516859
Habitat: As the name suggests this plant usually grows next to the sea. Most often found at the top of the beach where grasses such as Marram (Ammophila arenaria) and Sea Lyme (Leymus arenarius) begin to pop up.
Collector: Ewan Cole
Authority: Scop.

Pretty in Pink

Lake Retba, Senegal Credit: © WENN.com

Micrograph of Dunaliella salina

No photo-shopping here folks…that water is pink! It’s Lake Retba, aka Lac Rose, in the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal. The pink is caused by the harmless Dunaliella salina halophile (an algae that can live in a very high salt concentration).   These free-floating microbes harvest energy from the sun through the process of…

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