February 10, 2017
Those of you who know me, know that I am a huge Hard-Science Fiction fan (science based fiction, like the book The Martian by Andy Weir).
One of the concepts about the origin of life on planets comes from the concept of panspermia (the hypothes that life exists in other places in our solar system or the universe and was distributed by chance or other alien beings). My favorite example of this in fiction is the first scene in the Alien's series "Prometheus".
This week scientists tested some of the theories on panspermia. Basically, they put algae OUTSIDE of the International Space Station.
"They’re alive! Two algae survived 16 months on the exterior of the International Space Station ISS despite extreme temperature fluctuations and the vacuum of space as well as considerable UV and cosmic radiation."
-Dr. Thomas Leya at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology
We applaud this awesome research! Here are some links to their findings:
January 01, 2017
Hi Algae Fans,
I get asked at least once a week this question:
The answer is absolutely a yes... as long as you understand and are comfortable with what you are ingesting. I will be writing several articles that describe why we suggest caution. This first article is on identification of the eatable algae spirulina (Arthrospira).
Several times over the last three years I have had customers send me images from their microscopes comparing strains of that are labeled as Arthrospira. Specifically they compare Algae Research and Supply cultures to other 'Systems'. The morphological differences between ours and the others was shocking.
If you eat a blue green algae that produces toxins you can get very sick. Straight filaments are indicative of several types of toxic algae, here is a table of toxins from the World Health Organization (link).
Can you tell the difference between the algae sold by "Systems" and the toxic strain Oscillatoria? The home laboratory can not. Period.
Spirulina is morphological plastic. Under conditions of neglect, the strain can spontaneous convert from helical to straight. This means that the "Systems" folks algae could be spirulina. Are you willing to take that chance with your liver?
November 07, 2016
I had a chance to visit the University of Washington's Oceanography Campus this week. The school is world renowned with 60 faculty, 37 affiliate faculty, mainly drawn from the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, are also active in graduate advising.
They have four areas of specialization (biological, chemical, physical, and marine geology and geophysics) and on a variety of interdisciplinary topics (climate change, extreme environments, and coastal systems). The School is the only leading oceanography program to offer a bachelors degree!
While I was not a student, I can track my academic linage through UW. My graduate advisor, Nick Welschmeyer earned his PhD here in the 1980s. I am sure that some of my laboratory habits are ones learned here in Seattle.
September 30, 2016
I just emailed a customer who asked about algae blooms in Florida. They wanted to do an experiment. Here is how I responded...
Hi Glen and Daughter,
Great experiment concept and line of inquiry. Yes, we get this question often. Best way to approach is to ask your daughter, what she is observing. Then start asking why. When she can't get the answer from the internet, or from you, then create SIMPLE logical tests to answer her question.
Here are some examples of: is my local water replete (nutrient rich) and can result in an algae bloom?
Experiment: gather water from your area and evaluate it for growing algae. (culture a few bottles of local water with and without f/2 nutrients- If the bottles grow identically, then the water is saturated with nutrients and can result in a bloom. If only the bottles that were given the f/2 algae nutrients bloom, then the water is not eutrophic.)
You can determine nutrient levels using test strips (go for nitrate and phosphate). Creating a map for your local waterways. (nothing I sell, but it is really cool).
I hope this helps,
August 25, 2016
Why? Nitrogen and Phosphorus. These chemicals are added to our waters through our wastewater stream and from runnoff from agriculture.
We put together a simple plan that you can do at home to test if your local algae is limited by phosphorus or nitrogen, or is already eutrophic (has a lot of nutrients and can result in an algae bloom). Basically, you grow the algae!
We are trying out having you download the lesson directly from Google Documents. If you have suggestions, simply email us and we can make edits or add your pictures or comments. Here is the link:
July 28, 2016
Hi Algae Friends,
We are finally getting to publishing our LESSON PLANS!!! This first one is a toxicology plan about how much oil (or any other chemical really) it would take to kill algae.
Do you have any ideas for a lesson? Let us know how we can help!
May 24, 2016
Arthrospira platensis, aka spirulina, is a helical colony or tricome. Below are some of the features we use to describe the tricome.
Pitch: Similar to wavelength. It is the distance between two peaks in the tricome. The pitch can be between 7-50.
Colony Length: The length of the entire colony. This length is usually 20-300nM. Harvestable spirulina is usually 60-200nM in length.
Diameter: This is the width of the individual cells of the tricome. The diameter is usually 4-7nM.
May 07, 2016
It is early morning as most of family quietly sleeps...and my son begs for a television show before the sun comes up. I am up early doing research and doing final edits on the Algae Research Supply Culturing Manual. While researching lipids, I came across a good review article. Many of the algae-curious have asked me for information on the cultivation of algae for lipid production. Some people want to grow algae for biodiesel, others are curious about poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like DHA and EPA.
This article is about extracting lipids and other high value metabolites. It is from an Open Access journal site:
The citation and link:
Cuellar‐Bermudez, Sara P., et al. "Extraction and purification of high‐value metabolites from microalgae: essential lipids, astaxanthin and phycobiliproteins." Microbial biotechnology 8.2 (2015): 190-209.
If you have questions- drop me a line! Matthew@algaeresearchsupply.com