Who would get mixed with a hefty chap two meters high? There would be few those who wish. Just imagine that in a moment of danger this “hefty chap” becomes thrice as large... Is it fantasy? It is, if we are talking about people. But if it comes to unicellular algae, it is a typical scenario provided by nature for them. The scenedesmus unicellular alga grows thrice as large in presence of predators - cladoceran and rotifers that eat up unicellular algae. This is a defence mechanism as rotifers are unable to swallow such big cell.
This interesting peculiarity of the scenedesmus unicellular alga was investigated by the researchers of the Zoological Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences) in St. Petersburg. They managed to prove that the cell’s “image change” occurs at the genetic level at the point of transcription - information read-out from DNA.
To ascertain the transformation mechanism the researchers applied the actinomycin D inhibitor, which blocks read-out of hereditary information from DNA and, as a result, protein synthesis. An alga specimen was cultivated in a lean solution of chemical fertilizers. For the first experiment, the alga was transplanted into two glasses with rotifers that started to eat up the algae. The researchers added actinomycin D in one of the vessels, the other remaining intact for comparison.
Sergey Komarov | alfa
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