Profound effect of microalgae
Microalgae, tiny photosynthetic organisms, have influenced our planet’s climate in discrete ways for billions of years. By converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass through photosynthesis, they reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, helping to combat global warming. They are responsible for about half of the world’s biological carbon storage and play a central role in regulating the Earth’s climate. In the oceans, they store photosynthetic carbon deep underwater for centuries.
Evolution and environmental adaptations
Beyond climate, microalgae have shaped the evolution of countless species. As the basis of the marine food web, they have influenced the evolution of countless marine species. The oxygen they produce has been crucial to the evolution of aerobic life, including humans. Environmental factors have driven the evolution of various photosynthetic pigments in microalgae that optimise light absorption. Nutrient availability has also influenced their strategies, with some cyanobacteria even fixing atmospheric nitrogen. As ectothermic organisms, temperature directly affects the metabolic processes of microalgae, with global changes over time driving their physiological adaptations.