EHUX Bloom From Space
Smaller than a speck of dust, Emiliania huxleyi or “Ehux” plays an outsized role in the world’s seas. Ranging from the polar oceans to the tropics, these free-floating photosynthetic algae remove carbon dioxide from the air, help supply the oxygen that we breathe, and form the base of marine food chains. When they proliferate, their massive turquoise blooms are visible from space.
Now scientists have discovered one of the keys to Ehux’s success. A seven-year effort by 75 researchers from 12 countries to map its genome has revealed a set of core genes that mix and match with a set of variable genes that likely allows Ehux to adapt to different environments. Their results are described in the latest issue of Nature. Ehux build armor-like plates of chalk, or coccoliths. Shown here, coccolithophores are coloring the water of the Atlantic Ocean bright blue…