Painting the Town Lake Red: A lake in the Camargue region of France, where the Rhone meets the sea, turns blood red. Lake Retba in the western African nation of Senegal looks like strawberry milkshake. No, it’s not the apocalypse, it’s party time for the marine alga Dunaliella salinas. This single celled microscopic member of Chlorophyta thrives in extremely salty water where not much else survives. Because it has no cell wall, it produces glycerol to retain water against extreme osmotic stress.
Pretty in Pink! This micro alga stocks up massive amounts of the red pigment beta-carotene (10% of its dry weight), which acts as a sunscreen, protecting it from intense light. As the richest natural source of carotenoids, Dunaliella is cultivated commercially, and sold as a “superfood”, for its antioxidant properties.
A Tolerant Extremophile? Dunaliella grows under extremes of pH, ranging from pH 1 (D. acidophila) to pH 11 (D. salina). In fact, D. salina is one of the most environmentally tolerant eukaryotic organisms known and can cope with a salinity range from seawater (= 3% NaCl) to NaCl saturation (= 31% NaCl), and a temperature range from 38 °C.
#sciencesunday , ScienceSunday curated by Allison Sekuler , Chad Haney , Robby Bowles and guest curator Buddhini Samarasinghe while I’m painting the town red on my vacation.