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New Species of Sub-Aerial Diatoms

New Species of Sub-Aerial Diatoms

Context:

The seven new species of sub-aerial diatoms have been discovered from some areas of Western Ghats by city-based scientists from the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI).

Diatoms:

  • Diatoms are single-celled algae which generate nearly 25 % of global oxygen.
  • They are the only organism on the planet with cell walls composed of transparent, opaline silica.
  • They are commonly found in streams, rivers, lakes, and seas.

Significance:

  • Diatoms have light-absorbing molecules (chlorophylls a and c) that collect energy from the sun and turn it into chemical energy through photosynthesis.
  • The diatoms remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through carbon fixation.
  • The CO2 is converted to organic carbon in the form of sugar, and oxygen (O2) is released.
  • Diatoms produce long-chain fatty acids.
  • Diatoms are an important source of energy-rich molecules that are food for the entire food web, from zooplankton to aquatic insects to fish to whales.
  • Zooplanktons depend on phytoplankton for their food and other matter found in the sea (heterotrophs).
    • Phytoplankton and zooplankton: ‘Phyto‘ is used for small plants like diatoms and algae and ‘zoo‘ is used for small animals like tiny fish, crustaceans, which are weak swimmers and just move along the currents.
    • Plankton refers to the smallest aquatic plants or animals that float and drift in the limnetic zone of water bodies.

Carbon fixation:

  • It is also called ?arbon assimilation.
  • It is the process by which inorganic carbon (particularly in the form of carbon dioxide) is converted to organic compounds by living organisms.
  • The organic compounds are then used to store energy and as building blocks for other important biomolecules.
  • Photosynthesis is the most prominent example of carbon fixation. Chemosynthesis can take place in the absence of sunlight.
  • Organisms that grow by fixing carbon are called autotrophs, which include photoautotrophs (which use sunlight), and lithoautotrophs (which use inorganic oxidation).
    • Heterotrophs are not themselves capable of carbon fixation but are able to grow by consuming the carbon fixed by autotrophs.

Source: Indian Express