Top Ten Things You Don’t Know About Microalgae

Dec 4 2020
  1. Microalgae are the basis of all life. These single cell powerhouses are at the bottom of the food chain providing nutrients not only to aquatic life but also to the soil where other sources of nutrition grow. Human and animal health and wellness depend on the proliferation of algae.
  2. Much of the air we breathe comes from algae. Microalgae, along with macroalgae (seaweed), produce 50% of the oxygen we breath. Not only does this phenomenon sustain life, it helps the planet. Algae use CO2 as a fuel source, gobbling up the carbon and expressing out the oxygen, thus eliminating harmful greenhouse gases.
  3. You may think algae are just plants that live underwater. But algae are different. They did not evolve as other plants which need roots and leaves to thrive. But just like their land-based cousins, they use photosynthesis to grow, producing that life sustaining oxygen we breath. So plants, whether on land or in the sea, help the planet.
  4. Land-based algae? It’s true! Microalgae can be found in the soil beneath our feet and even in arid desert climates. It makes sense as water carries algae all over the planet. Some varieties adapt and grow wherever they find a home.
  5. Speaking of homes for algae, microalgae have a mutually beneficial relationship with the beautiful coral reefs in our oceans. Coral, which is actually an animal, allows microalgae to take up residence in its cells. In turn, the algae convert sunlight to the energy that coral uses to grow and build those magnificent, colorful reefs.
  6. Farmers have been feeding livestock algae for centuries, recognizing its health benefits, which lead to greater production. In new research scientists are finding that this practice not only helps the cows, but also the environment. Algae reduces the amount of greenhouse gases created in cow’s digestive systems, thus reducing the frequency of burps and farts.
  7. Most of us are familiar with sushi wrappers that come from macroalgae. Sushi has been part of some culture’s diets for centuries, but so has microalgae. Whether taken in pill form, mixed into beverages or just taken by the spoonful, these nutrient powerhouses have sustained human life for thousands of years.
  8. Our brains depend on iodine and omega-3 fats for proper function. A main source of these nutrients are fish and seafood. As stated before, microalgae are at the base of the food chain, giving life to all aquatic creatures and, therefore, helping us humans think clearly.
  9. Could algae be the future of sunscreen? The chemical, oxybenzone, used in some sunscreen can kill algae and harm coral reefs. Certain parts of the world have banned this chemical to protect our fragile ecosystem. In the search for alternatives, scientists have discovered algae have natural sunscreen (UV protectants) to protect itself. Maybe they could protect us too.
  10. Microalgae can be a substitute for petroleum products used to produce plastics. From biodegradable bottles, to the soles of our sneakers, to high performance snow skis, algae are showing up in products you could never imagine. But dream big. Our planet depends on it.