Microalgae are adapting to warming climate, declining nutrient levels in seas with novel strategy

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Source: The post is based on the article “Microalgae are adapting to warming climate, declining nutrient levels in seas with novel strategy” published in “Down To Earth” on 20th October 2023

What is the News?

Microalgae have adopted a unique strategy to adapt to global warming.

What is Microalgae?

Microalgae are microscopic algae that are invisible to the naked eye.They are typically found in freshwater and marine systems.

They are unicellular species that exist individually or in chains or groups.

Unlike higher plants, microalgae do not have roots, stems, or leaves.

Microalgae are capable of performing photosynthesis.They produce approximately half of the atmospheric oxygen and captures the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

What is the importance and applications of Microalgae?

Food Chain: They play a crucial role in the food chain as they serve as a primary source of nutrition for a wide range of aquatic organisms.They are often consumed by various aquatic creatures, including zooplankton, which, in turn, are eaten by larger organisms like fish.

Nutrition: Some species of microalgae, such as spirulina and chlorella, are highly nutritious and are used as dietary supplements.They are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

Biofuel: Microalgae can be used to produce biofuels, such as biodiesel. They have a high lipid content, which can be converted into fuel through various processes.

Environmental Remediation: Microalgae can help in wastewater treatment and carbon capture. They can absorb nutrients and pollutants from water and help improve water quality.

Biotechnology: Microalgae are used in biotechnology for the production of various compounds, including pigments, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.

What is the strategy adopted by Microalgae to adapt to global warming?

As climate change reduces nutrient availability in the ocean, microalgae activates a protein called rhodopsin.This protein is related to the one responsible for low-light vision in the human eye.

Rhodopsin enables these microalgae to thrive by using sunlight instead of traditional chlorophyll when nutrients are scarce.

Note: Rhodopsins are proposed to be major light capturers in the ocean.They absorb light as much as chlorophyll-based photosynthesis in the sea to generate energy and food.

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