Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Algae that are both "plant" and "animal"

14.06.2007
Nature is full of surprises. There are some algal species that can act both as "plants" and as "animals" at the same time. Wanderson Carvalho from the University of Kalmar has in his research for his PhD degree, contributed to better understand why these organisms have this behavior and what might be the effects of this nutrition on the environment, economy and public health issues.

We know that in terrestrial ecosystems, plants are the only living beings capable of producing their own food. This is only possible thanks to the chlorophyll and other pigments which can capture the sunlight energy.

With this energy and nutrients (e. g. nitrogen and phosphorus) from land and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere they produce organic material. Plants are thus producers and belong to the base of the food chain. Until recently it was believed that the same system worked for lakes and the sea, where phytoplankton (microalgae) served as food for zooplankton (microscopic animals), which in turns were eaten by small fishes, which were eaten by bigger fishes and then by humans and other top predators. However, nature is full of surprises! There are algae species that can act both as "plants" and as "animals" at the same time.

As "plants" the algae produce their own food and as "animals" they can eat other plants or even their own grazers. These organisms are called mixotrophs and their nutritional strategy is thus known as mixotrophy, in other words: "mixed nutrition". This dual nutritional behavior affects the notion of food chain mentioned above. In a comparison, imagine if instead of a cow eating the grass, the grass grabs and eats the cow.

... more about:
»Carvalho »animals" »mixotrophs »nutrient

The thesis of Wanderson Carvalho had as one of the objectives to quantify in two mixotrophic species how much nitrogen and phosphorous are needed when they act as "plants" and as "animals", respectively. For example, under nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) deficient conditions, mixotrophs can outcompete other algae species by eating them or utilizing the little available nutrients dissolved in the water. Wanderson also found out that "feeding as animals" can also provide carbon and energy to the mixotrophs if light is low or absent.

In absence of food, mixotrophs can use their photosynthetic capabilities to survive until suitable prey is available again. Mixotrophs can decrease competition since they can feed on their competitors and predators alike. Mixotrophs can survive adverse periods and because of that many mixotrophs form blooms, becoming potentially harmful to the environment.

Wanderson Carvalho thesis is entitled The Role of Mixotrophy in the Ecology of Marine "Phytoplankton".

More information:
Wanderson Carvalho tel: +46-480 447 352; wanderson.carvalho@hik.se
or Edna Granéli tel: +46-480 447 307 mobil: +46-70 674 9415.
Pressofficer Karin Ekebjär; karin.ekebjar@hik.se +46-709229 435

Karin Ekebjär | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

Further reports about: Carvalho animals" mixotrophs nutrient

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nesting aids make agricultural fields attractive for bees
20.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht The Kitchen Sponge – Breeding Ground for Germs
20.07.2017 | Hochschule Furtwangen

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>