Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Dark Survival in a Warmer Climate

According to the authors1 it is usual for most algae to be subjected to dark periods of from a a few hours to a few days, during which time they cannot photosynthesise, so need to consume stored energy products. There are some organisms, such as algae from polar regions and some microalgal cysts and spores, that need to survive prolonged dark periods that can last from months to years, and at such times need to develop alternative survival strategies. Some organisms, such as dinoflagellates, survive as dormant cysts. Some others either adopt mixotrophy or a physiological method. Dinoflagellates buried in sediment in a Norwegian fjord hold the record for the longest documented survival in dark conditions, surviving for 100 years. As seasonal changes in hours of daylight are not affected by a changing climate, polar microalgae will need to survive for the same length of time as at present, but at increasingly warmer temperatures. As result of this the authors1 suggest in the future polar microalgae will require a greater drawdown of stored energy. The authors1 say it has been shown by recent experiments that phytoplankton from the Arctic and the Antarctic can survive in the dark for the required period when the temperature is increased by up to 6oC.


Sources & Further reading

  1. McMinn, A., and A. Martin. "Dark Survival in a Warming World." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280, no. 1755 (March 22, 2013 2013).




Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 02/03/2013

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