Applications of Micro-CT for Algae Research

Micro-CT is increasingly used to analyze the internal structure and to monitor the morphology of algae as they are altered by their external environment. Algae provide for half of the phtosynthetic production of organic material on earth and are a sustainable source of biomass and oils for fuel, food, feed, and other co-products such as plastics, lubricants, and fertilizers. Algae have many adaptations for survival and are researched for solutions to slow and reverse the damage from climate change.

Morphology of the studied rhodolith species: Melyvonnea erubescens with its fruticose to warty morphology shows branched and short protuberances (1.5–4 mm length, 1–2 mm diameter). Micro-CT 3D image and a close-up on the thallus surface is shown. Schubert, Nadine, et al, Calcification in free-living coralline algae…, Scientific Reports, 27 May 2021.

Calcification in free-living coralline algae is strongly influenced by morphology: Implications for susceptibility to ocean acidification

Marine coastal ecosystems formed by free-living coralline algae are important ecosystems for marine biodiversity and carbonate production. Because our mechanistic understanding regarding rhodolith physiology and its drivers is still limited, this study investigated the role of morphology in species’ physiology and the implications for their susceptibility to ocean acidification.

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Micro-computed tomography: Applications for high-resolution skeletal density determinations: An example using annually banded crustose coralline algae

The warming and acidification of the world’s oceans have widespread consequences for marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. However, “due to the relatively short record of instrumental observations, one has to rely upon geochemical and physical proxy information stored in biomineralized shells and skeletons of calcareous marine organisms as in situ recorders of past environments. Of particular interest is the response of marine calcifiers to ocean acidification through the examination of structural growth characteristics.” This study demonstrates the use of micro-CT for 3D “visualization and analysis of growth, skeletal density, and calcification in a slow-growing, annually banded crustose coralline alga Clathromorphum nereostratum.”

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Unveiling privacy: Advances in microtomography of coralline algae

Micro-CT enables a non-destructive, detailed investigation of biological and geological signatures preserved within the structure of rhodolith beds.  “The main advantage of this technology is the preservation of specimens, including historical material from herbaria by the avoidance of fragmentation.” This study applies micro-CT to study coralline algae, discusses the detailed protocol as well as the advantages and limitations of the technology.

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Arctic crustose coralline alga resilient to recent environmental change

The Arctic seawater is warming at twice the global average due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and warming is therefore disproportionately influencing data-poor Arctic marine ecosystems. “Benthic crustose coralline algae presently flourishes in subarctic regions where they are key substrate builders that influence community structure through provision of habitat for a variety of benthic organisms.” This study evaluates changes in the skeletal resilience of long-lived subarctic crustose coralline alga Clathromorphum compactum responding to changes in seawater temperature and sea ice.

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Related Article:

X-ray Microscopic Examination of Calcified Algae – Mastophora rosea (C.Agardh) Setchell

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