Light but mighty: researchers find the key for a resistant alga

Jania sp, a coralline red alga, has a helical structure, which makes it extremely resistant to stress, researchers led by the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology have found, using three different beamlines at the ESRF. They publish their results in Advanced Science today.

Jania sp. is an articulated, coralline red alga with biomineralized tissue, living in the shallow waters of oceans and seas around the world and sustaining an enormous amount of stress due to the waves of the sea. Its skeleton is made of high magnesium calcite and it is very light weight, which brings its weight down while remaining very strong.

“Jania had already been studied before, but not with synchrotron X-rays, so we decided to do it to find out what made it such a sturdy alga”, explains Boaz Pokroy, corresponding author and professor at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology. The goal was to investigate the structure of these algae at various length scales, from the nano to the macroscale.

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Featured image: Jania sp algae on a beach. Credits: Wild Singapore.