Ulva, a green seaweed found in oceans all over the world, has been selected ‘Alga of the Year 2015’. This ’sea lettuce’ either forms tubular ribbons or sheet-like (‘lettuce’) blades. Individuals commonly reach a size of approx. 20-30 cm. The specific ‘lettuce’ growth form of the alga only develops in association of bacteria which trigger differentiation and development. As Ulva requires the presence of these bacteria, it has developed special mechanisms to attract them. This requires an exchange of information between algae and bacteria. As the two organisms belong to two very different evolutionary groups, this process has fascinated chemists, biologists and algal researchers who now want to establish one Ulva species - namely Ulva mutabilis - as a future model organism.
Photos of the press release "Alga of the Year 2015: The Sea Lettuce Ulva only gets into shape with the right bacteria
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Løvlie A (1964): Genetic control of division rate and morphogenesis in Ulva mutabilis Føyn. CR Trav. Lab. Carlsb. Comptes. 34, 77-168.
Smetacek V and Zingone A (2013): Green and golden seaweed tides on the rise. Nature 504, 84-88.
Spoerner M, Wichard T, Bachhuber T, Stratmann J, and Oertel W (2012): Growth and thallus morphogenesis of Ulva mutabilis (Chlorophyta) depends on a combination of two bacterial species excreting regulatory factors. J. Phycol. 48, 1433-1447 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1529-8817.2012.01231.x
Dr. Thomas Wichard
Head of the research group “Chemical Ecology of Ulva”
University of Jena
Institute for anorganic and analytical chemistry
Phone: ++49 3641 948184
Members of the Phycology Section (Algology) (www.dbg-phykologie.de/en.html) conduct research on algae and investigate, amongst others, taxonomical, ecological, physiological and molecular topics on macro- and microalgae. The Section promotes algal research and supports young scientists. The Section is one of five subject-specific Sections of the German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG, www.deutsche-botanische-gesellschaft.de/en.html).
Text: Dr. Esther Schwarz-Weig: www.Sci-Stories.com and Dr. Thomas Wichard
Translation: Dr. Inka Bartsch (Alfred Wegener Institute) and Dr. Dagmar Stengel (National University of Ireland, Galway)