Archivos de Diario para febrero 2024

27 de febrero de 2024

"algae is not a plant" it said

I had wander down a basic classifications rabbit hole. Just at the Wikipedia level, so not too deep. Yet. It all started when Gillian had a look over Tumblr and was presented with the provocative claim "algae is not a plant". Um, said I, you don't want to say anything sweeping about "algae". I'm pretty sure some of it is plant, although some of it is not.

The thing is, back in grade school as I grew up in an oceanside town, Ms. Cota was putting together her educational curriculum for learning about the ocean and we got the first iteration. We got to go to the touch tanks at UCSB (which was a common field trip and I think I went 3-4 times) and we got to go out to Santa Cruz Island (which was not common at all) and we learned about "kelp". This particular grade school is built on a bit of previously US Coast Guard property and the nearby beach is not cleaned. The beach is a free playground with no cars. The beach features big in our childhood. Kelp and tar feature big for all the students at that school.

Now kelp, we were told, is algae. It comes in three sorts: red, green, brown. We got all the sorts because there's currents that get to mixing in the vicinity of Point Conception and we got cold water stuff and warm water stuff. The brown kelp likes the cold and is most prevalent in our waters, but red and green are also seen. (More and more, I think.)

I never quite got that "kelp" wasn't really a group, or perhaps it wasn't really known yet. It looks like a few things were getting known about then. That would have been mid 1980s.

Fast forward about 35 years and I've got an observation of something plant-like. What is it? Dunno. Kelp, obviously. So I type in "kelp", think that looks suitably high up the chain for a result, and click it. A few days later, someone has come and added "red algae", but that didn't refine my "kelp". Oh no. Suddenly my observation is a member of "life".

What kept repeating with long pauses in between. Mind. Blown.

Also, can we not get a eukaryote?

So I got to looking and sure enough, brown algae (my "kelp" selection) has funny chloroplasts. There's extra membranes suggesting an independent capture event. Brown algae is not a plant. Something long ago probably ate some red algae and kept it going. There's multiple "photosynthetic lineages" are from engulfed red algae. (How do you know red and not green? Is it the same event or multiple?)

Red algae is a plant. Green algae is a plant. Land plants descend from green algae. (This last doesn't make them plants, but they are.) It's the chloroplasts.

Brown algae is not a plant.

There was an offhand mention of "blue-green algae" which is totally an old name, except it is very much in use in coastal northern California. The rivers get algal blooms and dogs die drinking from them most years. People get warned not to drink Redwood Creek for it by the National Park Service. That's cyanobacteria. That's not even a eukaryote.

Blue-green algae is not a plant. If I said "algae" (presumably I'd get green algae) on a cyanobacteria bacterial mat and someone said "nope", I'd probably think that was fair it became "life".

Oh, and prokaryotes maybe should be divided up as bacteria and the other stuff. And this little bit of the other stuff is where the eukaryotes pop up, probably, so they're not really as fundamental as all that. Um. Yeah.

Publicado el 27 de febrero de 2024 a las 02:45 PM por valhikes valhikes | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario