Natural algal population may explain how environmental changes affect global carbon cycles

phys.org | 10/9/2017 | Staff
Mireille (Posted by) Level 3
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Although they are invisible to the unaided eye, tiny green algae called Ostreococcus play a big role in how carbon, including carbon dioxide (CO2), cycle through our world. Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the complete set of genes (the genome) of 13 members of a natural Ostreococcus population. The analysis revealed that the O. tauri population is larger than anticipated. It's also diverse in terms of its genetics and appearance. The algae's natural resistance to ocean viruses influenced the algae's diversity.

Ostreococcus is a model species to study algae in marine environments. Though microscopic, these picoplankton use sunlight together with CO2 to create organic matter. The algae are significant primary producers (that is, they convert CO2 into biomass). Thus, the algae contribute to the global carbon cycle. This study offers insights into the genetic variability of various Ostreococcus strains. The results will help scientists see how environmental changes affect algae's ability to survive and thrive.

Picophytoplankton - Ostreococcus - Eye - Size - Abundance

Picophytoplankton such as Ostreococcus are so small they are invisible to the naked eye. Despite their size, their global abundance means they are a widespread primary producer and form the bases of several marine food webs. In coastal areas, they account for as much as 80 percent of the available biomass. A...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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