Alga species of the month – January

This year we will introduce a new alga every month. Everything from the large brown algae such as the bladderwrack, ( Fucus vesiculosus ) and narrow wrack ( Fucus radicans ) who have been the theme in our research for many years (and will continue to emerge during the studies this year), to small microscopic algae that may not be so famous. We want to show you how exciting alga are and what good they do by producing oxygen and also which products we get from different alga species and what they can do.
The alga of January: Haematococcus pluvialis

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In the small rock pools in the archipelago is often found a microscopic unicellular green alga. This alga, Haematococcus pluvialis , is called blood rain alga in Swedish and it is widely spread across Europe, Africa and North America. The latin name comes from the Greek word haema and Staphylococcus , which means blood and seed. pluvialis come from Latin and means rain.
They belong to the group of green algae and swim around by two thin flagella in the front side of the cell. In these small waterbodies of the rockpools, the environmental conditions vary quite a lot and blood rain algae can adapt and survive such different conditions as strong sunlight, drying out and freezing in winter, by forming special immobile resting spores with thick cell walls. The resting spores are filled with starch, fat, and astaxanthin, a red pigment. The spores become a sticky mass, forming a thin red film that sticks to the rock surface. When living conditions become better, for example, after a rain, the spores can transform and return to moving green algae.

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Astaxanthin is a substance that protects the cell from degradation by free radicals, which attack the cell during different types of stress, e.g. when the cell is exposed to strong UV radiation. Blood rain alga is cultivated because of its high content of astaxanthin, which can protect the human body’s cells against free radicals and boost the immune system. Today we find astaxanthin in a number of products out on the market, including feed in salmon farming. The substance is for example vital to the salmon’s maturation and spawning and also helps protect against various diseases. Wild salmon ingest astaxanthin through their natural food, small crustaceans who have eaten algae.

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Happy New 2017, and a movie.

We wish all our readers a very happy new 2017. During 2016, we had no less than 2434 visitors.

2017 will be a year full of activity in our seaweed resarch on bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) in the Baltic Sea. We hope to share lots of our exciting experiments and resluts with both old and new readers.

As winter seems to finally have decided to arrive in full here in Sweden, we treat you to a film showing the marine life at the Swedish west coast. Diver Edvin Thörnholm filmed all this material during one year in the Gullmar Fjord. The movie consists of material from 150 dives, showing the marine life at different depths and types of substrate in the fjord.

With this movie, Edvin wants to share the beauty of the underwater world and show how it varies with both season and time of day. The speaker voice is in Swedish, but if you see something and wish to know what it is, just mail us and state at what time in the film the organism is shown, and we’ll get back to you with a name in Latin and English. Enjoy!

The Gullmar fjord is the only threshold fjord in Sweden and by many regarded as the best dive site for marine biology. The local divecenter in the town Lysekil, DiveTeam, has many skilled marine biologists in their staff for those who whish for a guided “veggie-dive”.