Fleeing Phytoplankton

Something today tickled my memory about an interesting story my wife Summer Allen wrote up last year: researchers at the University of Rhode Island discovered that some phytoplankton (often described as, e.g., “microscopic marine plants“) can flee from predators.  Go to her blog and read more!

I’ll add one tidbit though.  Since mine is a morphology-focused blog, I find myself wondering at just how a plant might possess the physical means to flee.  It turns out that the species of phytoplankton studied — Heterosigma akashiwo, a red-tide causing alga — has two flagella, or whip-like appendages it uses to swim.

H. akashiwo from Hara and Chihara 1987.

This seems unusual in a plant, and so it would be — except that most or all phytoplankton, algae and H. akashiwo specifically included, seem not to be plants proper (though their precise classification seems too complicated an issue for me to tackle now).  Who knew?



One thought on “Fleeing Phytoplankton

  1. Pingback: A Thousand-year-old, Exoskeleton-building Arctic Alga | Tremendously Impressive Morphologies

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