Phycology

Directing algae

Print edition : March 05, 2013

When exposed to light, certain micro-algae converge to the centre of a pipe, a behaviour that could prove advantageous in industrial uses of these organisms. Photo: Physical Review of Letters

CERTAIN marine phytoplankton move vertically in water to reach regions with sufficient illumination for photosynthesis. A research team in France has investigated similar behaviour in the algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. When their light-sensitive part is exposed to light, the algae can move two flagella to swim towards the light source. The researchers placed these algae in water flowing through a pipe and used a fast-imaging technique to observe them as they moved in response to the illumination. The combination of the flow drag and the attraction due to light caused the algae to gather around the central axis of the pipe.

The effect, say the researchers, could be exploited for biohydrogen production—where algae expel hydrogen gas during photosynthesis—to prevent the organisms from clinging to walls and facilitate the gas separation process.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

The COVID-19-induced lockdown and the absolute necessity for human beings to maintain a physical distance from one another in order to contain the pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. The print medium all over the world is no exception.

As the distribution of printed copies is unlikely to resume any time soon, Frontline will come to you only through the digital platform until the return of normality. The resources needed to keep up the good work that Frontline has been doing for the past 35 years and more are immense. It is a long journey indeed. Readers who have been part of this journey are our source of strength.

Subscribing to the online edition, I am confident, will make it mutually beneficial.

Sincerely,

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor