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Professor Aaron Kaplan studies ecological processes in photosynthetic organisms, and is looking particularly close at green algae—the fastest growing photosynthetic organism on the planet.

On today’s podcast, he talks about the “crust” that this cyanobacteria helps form, called biological soil crust. He explains a number of interesting topics, including the following:

  • How biological soil crust is formed, why it varies in thickness, and what it’s composed of
  • Why it is so important to understand cyanobacteria in order to eliminate toxic algal blooms that are destroying ecological systems
  • What mechanisms organisms acquire in order to grow in the harshest environments on Earth
  • What is meant by saying that organisms use “languages”

 

Professor Kaplan discusses a range of compelling, technical details about some of the most unique habitats on Earth characterized by biological soil crust, which is a complex system comprised of many organisms which thrive off the metabolites produced by cyanobacteria or green algae.

He talks about the effects of algal blooms on ecological systems—particularly lakes in parts of China, why he aims to better understand the biological role of toxic secondary metabolites, oxidative stress and signaling between different organisms, and how one toxin can actually bind to and protect proteins from oxidative stress.

Professor Kaplan expounds on the technical aspects of the science behind his work, and emphasizes the importance and relevance of it to the health of both humans and the environment.

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