Algae: Playing a Vital Role on Earth in the Past, Present and Future

By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – A team of researchers at the Australian National University recently offered a bold answer to a huge question: What led to the appearance of complex organisms—including animals and humans—on Earth? As reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the researchers say the answer comes down to a single word: algae. The team claims to have found evidence of an “algae explosion” in the fossil record 650 million years ago; this arrival of large algae organisms at the base of the food chain, they say, created a burst of energy needed for more complex life forms. Prior to this, all life had been bacterial.

According to the ABC report, the evidence for the relatively large algae was uncovered in ancient sedimentary rocks from central Australia. These organisms may have originated during a widespread thawing that followed a period of global deep freeze that occurred 50 million years before the algae started to bloom, the researchers say.

“Algae have been part of the story of life on Earth for hundreds of millions of years,” says Andrew Dahl, President and CEO of ZIVO Bioscience, a biotech/agtech R&D company engaged in the commercialization of nutritional and medicinal products derived from proprietary algal strains. “Today, their properties are being studied more extensively than ever and focus has turned toward their potential for human nutrition, animal feed and pharmaceuticals.”

For example, in dairy cows, the company has conducted in vitro and in vivo studies to substantiate the usefulness of its processed algal biomass to fortify generic feed mixes with high-availability non-starch polysaccharides, vitamins, amino acids and quality protein, which in combination is intended to support improved milk productivity on a herd-wide basis, as well as a healthy immune system. Meanwhile, as a phytogenic poultry feed ingredient, ZIVO’s algal strain is positioned to enter the poultry nutrition market, where early indications suggest that algal biomass may be beneficial to broiler health. Finally, adapting isolates of ZIVO’s proprietary algal strains for pharmaceutical applications is an additional near-term goal of the company.

“Every species of algae produces its own, unique bioactive molecules as these organisms try to control their immediate environment, many of which could be beneficial to higher life forms,” adds Dahl. “There are more than 72,000 species of algae. The possibilities are limitless.”

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