The Atlas of Living Australia contains information on all the known species (animals, plants and more) in Australia, aggregated from a wide range of data providers: museums, herbaria, community groups, government departments, individuals and universities. It contains more than 50 million occurrence records, based on specimens, field observations and surveys. These records are enriched by additional information including molecular data, photographs, maps, sound recordings and literature. Explore your area! [more inside]
Biology textbooks tell us that lichens are alliances between two organisms—a fungus and an alga. They are wrong.
Ontario photographer Dave Sanford's photos of waves on Lake Erie capture weather conditions on the world's eleventh largest lake. Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, with an average depth of only 62 feet (19 metres). This makes it prone to a weather phenomenon known as a "seiche." [more inside]
"When we drink bottled water we throw away plastic, [and] 80% of the bottles are not recycled..... Ooho! uses the culinary technique of sphereification, the water is encapsulated in a double gelatinous membrane. The technique consist into apply sodium alginate (E-401) from the brown algae and calcium chloride (E-509) in a concrete proportions in order to generate a gelification on the exterior of the liquid. The final package is simple, cheap (2ct/unit), resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even eatable."
Once thought to be a commensal relationship between Crytoses choloepia, a sloth shit loving moth that lives exclusively in the hair of the sloth and the sloth, scientists now believe that the sloth moth, the sloth, and an green algae that also exclusively lives in the sloth's main, form a complex ecosystem that allows all of them to survive. Previous metafilter sloth love.
For the past several months, manatees, dolphins, and pelicans have been dying by the hundreds in Florida's Indian River Lagoon. [more inside]
For the sixth year in a row, green algae have invaded the beaches of Quingdao, China (video). This year's algal bloom covers 28,900 km² (about the size of Massachussets or Albania), more than twice the 2008 record (13,000 km²). Bonus: two research papers (PDF) dealing with the identification of the species (Ulva prolifera) and the origin (possibly aquaculture ponds on land) of the 2008 bloom (5 years ago on MeFi).
Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie: [New York Times]
"A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually."
The Puzzle of Plastid Evolution: A comprehensive understanding of the origin and spread of plastids remains an important yet elusive goal in the field of eukaryotic evolution. Combined with the discovery of new photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic protist lineages, the results of recent taxonomically broad phylogenomic studies suggest that a re-shuffling of higher-level eukaryote systematics is in order. Consequently, new models of plastid evolution involving ancient secondary and tertiary endosymbioses are needed to explain the full spectrum of photosynthetic eukaryotes. [Full Text HTML] [Full Text PDF] [more inside]
When you imagine the crops that will provide biofuels, what is the first image that enters your mind? A field of corn or sugar cane? Maybe you should be picturing pond scum instead. [more inside]
Inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal* article, Robert Rapier, chemical engineer, peakist, blogger, and currently chief technology officer for a bioenergy company, reviews the pretenders, contenders, and niche players in the emerging field of green energy, with particular consideration of liquid fuels. Meanwhile, the boffins at Foreign Policy consider the risks of the coming of the green energy era, and depict the end of the oil age. (Both part of FP's extensive look at the end of oil; previously.) [more inside]
"Algae is the ultimate biological system using sunlight to capture and convert carbon dioxide into fuel... I came up with a notion to trick algae into pumping more [fuel] out." Craig Venter's Synthetic Genomics partners with ExxonMobil in a $600M project to harvest biofuels from genetically engineered algae. "We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry." [previously] [more inside]
Today Boeing completed the first test flight of a commercial jet-liner using a mix of conventional jet-fuel and a fuel created from algae and the african weed jatropha. Boeing hopes that biofueled flights will be common in just three years.
"Leaves that crawl".... Assimilated chloroplasts give a species of sea slug its deep green glow; and to keep it, Elysia Chlorotica becomes even a little more plant-like....
China's Olympic beaches, choked by a plague of green algae. Sez David Suzuki: This is not an unusual occurrence, but it is a symptom of an underlying problem with potential repercussions far more serious than hampering Olympic events. [more inside]
Pond scum saves the planet? In the beginning, there were algae, but there was no oil. Then, from algae came oil. Now, the algae are still there, but oil is fast depleting. In future, there will be no oil, but there will still be algae. ^ Power your ride with pond scum. In some iterations you don't even need light. (we have talked about this before and the fact that CO2 powers the algae production is not insignificant) More details here.
Petroleum from Pond Scum: Dr. Isaac Berzin, founder of GreenFuel Technologies, is working on a prototype that uses algae to convert power plant emissions into biofuels. Good news: It would only take a bioreactor twice the size of new Jersey to supply the entire US with its petroleum needs.
Will algae defeat global warming? "Fed a generous helping of CO2-laden emissions, courtesy of the power plant's exhaust stack, the algae grow quickly... The cleansed exhaust bubbles skyward, but with 40 percent less CO2... The algae is harvested daily and a combustible vegetable oil is squeezed out: biodiesel".