French scientists have discovered that tiny crustaceans pollinate red algae on our seafloor. This is the first known case of animals helping algae reproduce.
The terrestrial pollination process is well known. However, under the sea, plant reproduction remains a mystery. For the first time, scientists have discovered that tiny insects help pollinate algae. Explanations.
According to one study, a small crustacean, Itodia (Itodia baltica), acting as a “sea bee” for one species of red algae in particular: Th Gracilaria gracilis. The work was carried out by Emma Lovett, a doctoral student at the Sorbonne University, and Miriam Valero, a geneticist. CNRSPublished in the magazine Science July 28, 2022.
An idotée is an isopod that lives on algae, especially red algae.
\ud83d\udc1d In Roscoff, researchers have discovered a sea bee called Idotée that pollinates marine environments and its red algae! \u2764\ufe0f (Scientific Review) pic.twitter.com/GnvHLoBIoR
— Positive Media \ud83c\udf40 (@LMPositif) August 5, 2022
Until now, scientists thought that the reproduction of these red algae was due to the movement of water. When they found large numbers of these iodota in the algae, they wondered if the crustaceans played a role as pollinators.
Fast Fertilization with Isodies
To test their hypothesis, the researchers placed male and female algae in tanks 15 centimeters apart. Half the tanks contained small crustaceans, the others did not. Twenty times more fertilization occurred in tanks with isopods. The spermathecia, associated with the pollen, cover the body of the tiny anthers.
It is known that flowering sea plants use invertebrates for their reproduction and land plants that reach the oceans. But this discovery for algae is brand new.