These Crustaceans Pollinate Seaweed , It’s the first known case of an animal helping algae reproduce, and could suggest that pollination first evolved in the world’s ancient oceans.
Move over birds and bees, there is another pollinator on planet Earth, and it lives in the sea. In a study, published Thursday in the journal Science, scientists found that a tiny crustacean, Idotea balthica, played the role of pollinator for a species of seaweed. They do this by inadvertently collecting the algae’s sticky spermatia, its equivalent of pollen, on their bodies and sprinkling it around as they move from frond to frond in search of food and shelter. This is the first time an animal has been observed fertilizing an algae. This discovery not only extends the scope of species that use this reproductive strategy, it also raises questions about whether it first evolved on land or in the sea.
It was long thought that animals only Pollinate plants on land. However, in 2016 scientists discovered that zooplankton pollinate Thalassia testudinum, a sea grass species found in the Caribbean. Sea grasses are the only flowering plants that grow in marine environments, but they remain closely related to terrestrial plants. Seaweeds on the other hand, while technically plants themselves, are not closely related to terrestrial plants. The discovery that Thalassia testudinum was Pollinate by animals was made after scientists noticed an unusually high density of marine invertebrates visiting sea grass flowers. Shortly after this discovery, Myriam Valero, a population geneticist at Sorbonne University in France, observed something similar happening among the red algae she was studying.
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