Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why We See Red When Looking At Ocean Plants: Rutgers Marine Scientists Say Phytoplankton Changed Color 250 Million Years Ago

Date:
September 19, 2003
Source:
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
Summary:
Green was the dominant color for plants both on land and in the ocean until about 250 million years ago when changes in the ocean's oxygen content - possibly sparked by a cataclysmic event - helped bring basic ocean plants with a red color to prominence - a status they retain today.

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Green was the dominant color for plants both on land and in the ocean until about 250 million years ago when changes in the ocean's oxygen content - possibly sparked by a cataclysmic event - helped bring basic ocean plants with a red color to prominence - a status they retain today. That's the view of a group led by marine scientists from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in a paper, "The Evolutionary Inheritance of Elemental Stoichiometry in Marine Phytoplankton" in the journal Nature, published Thursday (Sept. 18).

Studying ancient fossils plus current species of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton, the scientists found evidence that a "phytoplankton schism" took place after a global ocean oxygen depletion killed 85 percent of the organisms living in the ocean about 250 million years ago at the end of the Permian era. "This paved the way for the evolution of red phytoplankton," said one of the paper's authors, Paul G. Falkowski, professor in the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Program at Rutgers' Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS). Falkowski has a joint appointment with Rutgers' Department of Geological Sciences.

The Permian era, prior to the advent of the dinosaurs, ended in a global extinction scientists believe may have been linked to extraterrestrial collisions or earthly eruptions or explosions.

"Plants on land are green, and they inherited the cell components that gave them a green color about 400 million years ago," Falkowski said. "But most of plants or phytoplankton in the ocean are red - they inherited their pigments about 250 million years ago. Our paper suggests that a global ocean oxygen depletion changed the chemistry of the ocean and selected for red phytoplankton. The ocean has been dominated by the red line ever since."

The research is supported under the National Science Foundation's Biocomplexity Program. Lead author on the paper is Antonietta Quigg, formerly of IMCS and now at Texas A&M University. Besides Falkowski, co-authors include Zoe V. Finkel and Andrew J. Irwin of IMCS, Yair Rosenthal of IMCS and the Department of Geological Sciences, Oscar Schofield of IMCS and Rutgers' Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory and John R. Reinfelder of Rutgers' Department of Environmental Sciences. Co-authors from Princeton University Department of Geosciences are Tung-Yuan Ho and Francois M.M. Morel.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Why We See Red When Looking At Ocean Plants: Rutgers Marine Scientists Say Phytoplankton Changed Color 250 Million Years Ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030918092255.htm>.
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. (2003, September 19). Why We See Red When Looking At Ocean Plants: Rutgers Marine Scientists Say Phytoplankton Changed Color 250 Million Years Ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030918092255.htm
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Why We See Red When Looking At Ocean Plants: Rutgers Marine Scientists Say Phytoplankton Changed Color 250 Million Years Ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030918092255.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins