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Algae in the Arctic

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Algae

This article has been adapted from the Oilgae newsletter- It gives a brief idea about the algae which can thrive in ice and extreme cold conditions with an emphasis on algae that are present in the Artic. .

Cold-loving algae discovered in Arctic – A new life form of tiny, cold-loving micro-organisms involved in photosynthesis has been discovered in the Arctic Ocean, according to an international team of scientists, including a Canadian researcher. The tiny plant organism, called a picobiliphyte, is distinct from anything else in the ocean

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/01/12/lovejoy-algae.html

Smallest Algae Thrive As the Arctic Ocean Freshens – William K. W. Li,* Fiona A. McLaughlin, Connie Lovejoy, Eddy C. Carmack – As climate changes and the upper Arctic Ocean receives more heat and fresh water, it becomes more difficult for mixing processes to deliver nutrients from depth to the surface for phytoplankton growth.

Competitive advantage will presumably accrue to small cells because they are more effective in acquiring nutrients and less susceptible to gravitational settling than large cells. Since 2004, we have discerned an increase in the smallest algae and bacteria along with a concomitant decrease in somewhat larger algae. If this trend toward a community of smaller cells is sustained, it may lead to reduced biological production at higher trophic levels.

Read more – http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/326/5952/539?rss=1

Many species of algae thrive in ice – In the 1970’s, a Russian biologist discovered 200 species of tiny organisms, algae and zooplankton that flourished on the ice floes, the bottoms of icebergs and in the open water of the Arctic Ocean. More – http://www.athropolis.com/arctic-facts/fact-plankton.htm

Three different articles, dwelling on three different aspects of algae in the Arctic. What was of interest to me is the fact that such a multitude of algae grow in such extreme climates. Which was one of the original reasons why algae sound exciting as a biofuel feedstock: If it can grow in the Arctic ice, it can grow anywhere.

I do appreciate that the earlier statement of mine could be construed as overly simplistic. The fact that algae could grow anywhere does not imply that we could grow large-scale quantities of algae at high productivity anywhere. That algae could grow in extreme conditions does not also imply that we could grow it for fuel at low costs at much less extreme conditions.

All the same, stories of algae’s survival at extreme conditions does merit an optimistic cheer from all the biofuel enthusiasts worldwide – there is certainly a streak of light at the end of the tunnel.

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Small algae with great potential

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