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The Wonders of Algae

I read this article on algae and how it can potentially do wonders for our world. The two main wonders it can help us with are reducing global temperatures and decrease our dependence on oil. As the article reads, the only major downside to this is the high cost and that the “environmental factors have created insurmountable roadblocks”. In my biology class I learned that algae is a critical species to have in any aquatic ecosystem. I learned that there is a process called eutrophication due to algae blooms. This is when algae grow without having any consumer to check its population growth, so it grows out of hand and ends up taking over the lake or body of water it is in. Now, judging from the article, this seems like it could be a good thing, but it actually isn’t. Eutrophication kills off much of the biodiversity in the water because the algae grows so densely that the visible light from the sun is blocked from reaching life underneath the algae. This means that all the other photosynthesizers do not have sufficient light nor space to grow. It also means that other species do not have enough room to grow either. Algae both photosynthesize and respire, which means they both produce and consume carbon dioxide and oxygen. Exponential growth of an algae population dominates the natural resources (mainly oxygen) a pond has to offer. The plants and animals trapped under the blanket of algae die off and become detritus at the bottom of the lake. Decreased biodiversity is not usually a good thing, I cannot think of a reason why it would be, but it’s possible.  Can you?

I think it’s amazing that scientists have to knowledge to bioengineer organisms to produce for us, but it is not their natural purpose and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if things got out of hand? Any thoughts or more information that you guys know about bioengineering or algae that you would like to share? I’m taking most of my information from junior year biology class, so if any of it is incorrect please correct me!

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I don’t know much about algae or biology, but you definitely bring up a good point. I feel that often times we see things in the news about new technology using random resources, such as algae, yet it is not always clear what type of impact the use of that resource could have. Also, for me, the idea of bioengineering organisms seems very unnatural. It reminds me of the concept that in the future people will be able to pick out what color hair, eyes, etc. their child has. I know it is not completely the same but it is the same that it is not natural. Yes, humans are meant to reproduce but they are not supposed to know what their child is going to look like before it comes out. Algae has its specific functions and was not meant to serve humans in their needs. Although I don’t know much about the topic but I certainly agree with the idea that some things just aren’t natural and might have interesting consequences.

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