Monday, January 9, 2012

Algae balls spread around the world from Japan: study

KUSHIRO, Hokkaido -- Marimo balls, a type of green algae that grows in a rare round shape, spread to various locations around the world from Japan, a researcher here has revealed.

The study was conducted by Isamu Wakana, at the Kushiro Board of Education's "Marimo Kenkyushitsu" (Marimo Research Center), who found that among all marimo balls he had examined over the past decade, the oldest types were concentrated in Japan.

He also believes that the rare green balls may have spread to other countries and locations through bird migration, he says.

Over approximately 10 years, Wakana examined and constructed a database of some 1,200 marimo algae samples from multiple global locations, including Japan, Iceland, Canada and Western Siberia. In addition, he compared the degree of DNA mutations in 34 samples.

Wakana was able to determine that many of the marimo specimens found in Japan, including those designated by the national government as "natural monuments" in Lake Akan in Kushiro, were ancestral forms with no DNA mutations. In addition, marimo balls from Lake Biwa in western Japan that were found to have DNA mutations were the oldest kind of such marimo. Read More