Global icing gave green algae a decisive competitive advantage more than 600 million years ago
Green algae form the foundation of the food pyramids on the earth and supply nutrients for many organisms. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and from the MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen have now found out that the algae have only had this ecological significance since the end of a global icing phase 635 million years ago. According to the researchers, novel fat molecules have given the green algae a survival advantage. They were thus able to defy the strong temperature fluctuations which they were exposed to in their living environments.
Hoshino, A. Poshibaeva, W. Meredith, C. Snape, V. Poshibaev, G.J.M. Versteegh, N. Kuznetsov, A. Leider, L. van Maldegem, M. Neumann, S. Naeher, M. Moczydłowska, J.J. Brocks, A.J.M. Jarrett, Q. Tang, S. Xiao, D. McKirdy, S. Das, J. Alvaro, P. Sansjofre, C. Hallmann: Cryogenian evolution of stigmasteroid biosynthesis, Science Advances online, 20 September, 2017; DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700887