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Microalgae

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: DTE

  

Context: A study published in the journal Nature Microbiology has revealed that microalgae, crucial in the ocean’s food chain and carbon capture, have developed a unique strategy to adapt to global warming and declining nutrient levels in the sea.

  • As climate change reduces nutrient availability, these microalgae activate a protein called rhodopsin, similar to the protein in the human eye responsible for vision in dim light.
  • This light-responsive protein enables microalgae to thrive by using sunlight as an alternative to traditional chlorophyll for growth.
  • The study suggests that microbial rhodopsins are significant light capturers in the ocean, potentially absorbing as much light as chlorophyll-based photosynthesis.
  • As global warming leads to nutrient scarcity at the ocean’s surface due to reduced mixing between the surface and deeper waters, microalgae struggle to produce food and capture carbon dioxide.
  • This mechanism may have applications in biotechnology for enhancing the activity of light-dependent microbes for various purposes, from insulin production to biofuel.