MessageToEagle.com - First observation of predator avoidance behavior by phytoplankton was made by researchers at the University of Rhode Island's
Graduate School of Oceanography.
While studying microscopic marine plants and their behavior in confrontation to the predatory zooplankton Favella sp, researchers
noticed that a species of phytoplankton, a microscopic marine plant known as Heterosigma akashiwo
can handle dangerous situations by avoiding predators.
"The phytoplankton can clearly sense the predator is there. They flee even from the chemical scent of the predator but
are most agitated when sensing a feeding predator," said Susanne Menden-Deuer at the University of Rhode Island, co-author of the study.
The zooplankton predator Favella sp. (left) and the fleeing phytoplankton Heterosigma. (University of Rhode Island)
"It has been well observed that phytoplankton can control their movements in the water and move toward light and
nutrients," Menden-Deuer said. "What hasn't been known is that they respond to predators by swimming away from them. We don't know of any other
plants that do this."
While imaging 3-dimensional predator-prey interactions, the researchers noted that the phytoplankton Heterosigma akashiwo
swam differently in the presence of predators, and groups of them shifted their distribution away from the predators.
Moreover, researchers also found that the phytoplankton flee when in water that had previously contained the predators.
They found only a minimal effect when the phytoplankton were exposed to predators that do not feed on phytoplankton.
When the scientists provided the phytoplankton with a refuge to avoid the predator – an area of low salinity water that
the predators cannot tolerate – the phytoplankton moved to the refuge.
The important question these observations raise, according to Menden-Deuer, is how these interactions affect the survival
of the prey species.
Measuring survival in the same experiments, the researchers found that fleeing helps the alga survive. Given a chance,
the predators will eat all of the phytoplankton in one day if the algae have no safe place in which to escape, but they
double every 48 hours if they have a refuge available to flee from predators. Fleeing makes the difference between life
and death for this species, said Menden-Deuer.
"One of the puzzling things about some phytoplankton blooms is that they suddenly appear," she said.
"Growth and nutrient availability don't always explain the formation of blooms. Our observation of algal fleeing
from predators is another mechanism for how blooms could form. Amazingly, looking at individual microscopic behaviors can
help to explain a macroscopic phenomenon."
The researchers say there is no way of knowing how common this behavior is or how many other species of phytoplankton
also flee from predators, since this is the first observation of such a behavior.
"If it is common among phytoplankton, then it would be a very important process," Menden-Deuer said. "I wouldn't be
surprised if other species had that capacity. It would be very beneficial to them."
The discovery was published in the September 28 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.
Amazing Phenomenon Of Singing Plants
Plants are very much alive. Not only do they dislike human noise but they also posses the capacity to learn and communicate.
Perhaps even more astonishing is that plants can also make music.
Have you ever heard the incredible music of the plants? Plants can
actually sing and compose music and listening to it is truly beautiful and relaxing!
World's First High-Tech Underwater "Wonder"
This fantastic craft looks almost like an alien spacecraft, or a maritime version of Star Trek's USS Enterprise!
SeaOrbiter is a unique vessel. It is much more than the world's first vertical ship. SeaOrbiter will be constructed with the sole aim of exploring the world's oceans.
It is a scientific laboratory that will give researchers opportunity to explore the secrets of our oceans.
They Produce Water From The Air!
An Amazing Invention For Those Who Really Need It!
"How can we help someone so powerful they can create water out of thin air?" an astonished Jabin yells in Star Trek's Caretaker.
If you are a Star Trek fan you will remember how the Kazons try to aquire technology that can create water our of thin air.
This technology is no longer in the realms of science fiction. Today we can really create water out of thin air!
Unexplained Sounds Coming From The Ocean
Several very unusual sounds coming from the oceans have been recorded by scientists world-wide.
Are the sounds caused by very large life forms lurking in the unexplored darkness of Earth's deep oceans or perhaps something else?
Something is down there and experts do not know what it is...
All of these sounds have no thing in common - they remain unexplained.