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A nanoscopic look at the estuary's green algae
Date:6/27/2012

The pico is a very small unit, even smaller than the nano as it is the equivalent of 10-12. The biologist Aitor Alonso has devoted himself to studying green algae of this imperceptible size existing in the Bilbao estuary, paying particular attention to the area beyond the Nervin estuary. This has enabled him to identify six genera and eleven nano- and picoplanktonic species that until now had not been catalogued in these waters. He has also put forward some measures designed to optimize the methodology to be applied to these analyses. His thesis, defended at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), is entitled Algas verdes en el picoplancton y nanoplancton del estuario del ro Nervin (Golfo de Vizcaya) (Green algae in the picoplankton and nanoplankton in the estuary of the river Nervin (Bay of Biscay).

All the algae contain chlorophyll A, but it is chlorophyll B that characterises green algae and gives them their pigment. "They have been used for producing biofuels, for treating sewage, etc. Research has also been done on them in the quest for products for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries," says Alonso. But the practical applications of the green algae were not the starting point of this research, rather their extremely high relative presence among the smallest organisms in the Nervin estuary. "There is an abundance of them among the smallest algae in the plankton, in other words, picoplankton. Most of what can be found of that size, apart from bacteria, are green algae." So his main aim was to find out a little more about this specific diversity. Data like, for example, that the most abundant green algae belong to the chlorophyta division, which dominate in the outer part of this estuary during the summer.

Species and the TSA-FISH technique

The samples collected by Alonso between 2007 and 2010 have been used to isolate and analyse 26 algae strains from the estuary of the Nervin and other nearby on
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Contact: Amaia Portugal
a.portugal@elhuyar.com
34-943-363-040
Elhuyar Fundazioa
Source:Eurekalert

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