University of Hawaii researchers get grant for limu study

University of Hawaii researchers get grant for limu study



  • COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

    A brand new species of the pink alga Martensia collected from roughly 200 ft beneath the ocean’s floor at French Frigate Shoals.



Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa have obtained a grant to additional study a brand new species of limu discovered solely within the Hawaiian archipelago’s deep and dimly lit waters.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $792,021 to a group of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Bishop Museum and the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife to explain the brand new species intimately.

The UH Manoa group anticipates will probably be in a position to describe greater than 60 new species of limu, often known as marine algae, from the deep waters of the Hawaiian archipelago, utilizing a mixture of DNA methods and anatomical research.

“This is one of the most extensive studies of mesophotic (existing in low light) algae to date,” mentioned Alison Sherwood, a botany professor and principal investigator of the grant, in a information launch. “We have nearly 2,000 specimens of limu collected from 100 to more than 600 feet deep across the entire Hawaiian archipelago. This will redefine our understanding of limu diversity in Hawaii and will aid understanding of floras across the entire Indo-Pacific.”

Technical divers collected the limu specimens from mesophotic coral ecosystems, or coral reefs at depths of 100- to 500-plus ft deep, that are among the many most poorly explored of all marine ecosystems on Earth.

The reefs characterize a brand new frontier, on condition that they’re at better depths than standard scuba divers can safely enterprise, however shallower than most submersible-based exploration sometimes goes. The specimens had been collected from all the, 1,600-mile stretch of the Hawaiian archipelago — from Kure atoll to Hawaii island.

Besides serving as meals, the limu are “photosynthetic protists” utilized in meals components, cosmetics, paints, toothpaste and biofuels.

“The limu form beds and meadows in this deep, blue water, and some appear to form habitat for fish and invertebrates,” says co-principal investigator and postdoctoral fellow Heather Spalding. “These new species aren’t just tiny fuzz on the reef — they’re huge blades of brightly-colored red, brown and green limu. It’s like a garden down there, with new species poking up around every reef. We’re just on the tip of the iceberg in terms of understanding algal diversity in the mesophotic.”



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