Photo courtesy of Courtney Miller

Nutrition - You are what you eat!

The Synthesis of Photons? (Photosynthesis)
Fucus vesiculosus is able to undergo a process called photosynthesis. Through this process, F. vesiculosus is able to produce sugars for itself. The brown algae does this with structures called chloroplasts, which contain certain pigments that are able to capture the sun's energy and convert this light energy into a useable form of chemical energy, glucose, which the cells can use as its main source of energy. The only chemicals bladderwrack needs to undergo photosynthesis are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). The chemical reaction is shown below:

6 CO2 + 6 H2O àC6H12O6 + 6 O2

Photo of F. vesiculosus in the Tagus river near Lisbon, Portugal - Courtesy of Ester SerraoAll species of brown algae contain pigments called Chlorophyll a , which is what gives plants and green algae their characteristic green color. But the pigment that sets brown algae apart from plants is Chlorophyll c. Brown algae also have pigment that can be classified as a caretenoid called fucoxanthin. This pigment ends up masking the chlorophylls to give the brown algae their brown color. Fucoxanthin helps F. vesiculosus capture a broader spectrum of light, allowing the organism to use more energy from the sun, and making the whole process of photosynthesis more efficient. The picture to the right shows F. vesiculosus in a slightly greener state. The reason for the darker green and not the green you see on most land plants is because of the fucoxanthin. You can learn about another algae by visiting the site on Spirogyra Longata. Not only do algae and plants, both of which have a nucleus, undergo photosynthesis, some organisms without a nucleus do as well. You can learn more about this very intriguing happenstance by going to the site on the genus Anabaena.


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