Did You Know…Algae Should Not Be Judged by Their Appearance?

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October 14, 2021

Energy Awareness Month: Did You Know…
Algae Should Not Be Judged by Their Appearance?

Algae species

Algal reference genomes mapped onto a eukaryotic tree. Photo courtesy of E.R. Hanschen, Los Alamos National Laboratory.


When we talk about algae, we’re really talking about a diverse group of organisms that thrive in a plethora of environments, from seawater to freshwater, from pulp mill ponds to hot springs. Some are strict phototrophs and can only use light for energy, whereas others can consume organic carbon, like raw plants, for growth.

But to the naked eye algae look very similar to each other—even under a microscope to a trained individual. It has only been through deep sequencing that the extent of their diversity has been revealed, largely through efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO’s) Advanced Algal Systems program.

Still, there are many species of algae that have not been investigated. As Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists recently discovered, there is much to learn about the algae we thought we already understood.

Check out BETO’s Algae: As Different from Each Other as They Are from You and Me Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D blog to learn more.

This research is supported and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office.


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