02 Jan 2013 · Press release · Sections

Alga of the year 2013: The microalga Lingulodinium polyedrum illuminates the sea

Blue bioluminescence caused by blooms of Lingulodinium polyedrum in surface waters near San Diego on the Californian coast in 2011. Photo: With kind permission by Christopher J. Wills, University of California , San Diego

Phycologists have chosen a new alga of the year: the unicellular alga Lingulodinium polyedrum. This dinoflagellate has an armoured plate and two flagella and fascinates not only scientists but also seafarers and beach walkers as is capable of illuminating the sea at night with a bluish light. Algal scientists who are organized in the German Phycological Section of the German Botanical Society want to honour this special algal species. Dr Mona Hoppenrath from the German Centre for Marine Biodiversity (DZMB) at the marine section of the Senckenberg Institute explains this fascinating feature: the species has the ability to auto-luminesce, possesses a distinct diurnal rhythm and can be used as a sensor for water quality.

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