After a summer sampling trip to Michigan’s Lake of the Clouds, students at the University of Michigan’s Biological Station have uncovered three new diatom species, according to a release from the school. Diatoms are single-celled alga with glass cell walls and diverse and beautiful shapes.
Throughout the effort, students used different types of gear to sample the lake, including nets, turkey basters, rock scrapers and scuba gear for sample collection deep in its water column. After the sampling period was complete, most of the discovery centered on analysis back in the lab.
Microscopic views of the samples were projected onto a large screen throughout the analysis, allowing all the students to chime in with their thoughts and share in the discovery. “The beauty at that scale was breathtaking,” said Mark Fate, an alumnus of U. Mich., in the release.
The students saw all the intricate structures that make up algae, lime-shaped compartments and varying shades of green. The detailed view helped them to learn about algae, as well as give them an appreciation for the research experience they were getting. In addition, the students created a digital photo library of the algae specimens they studied so that others can use the data in the future.
“We actually don’t get to that level with most classes,” said Pat Kociolek, a faculty member at the biological station, in the statement. “Everybody was working on the one project, which gave them an opportunity to get into some uncharted waters and get a deeper knowledge of algae.”
Featured Image: Lake of the Clouds. (Credit: Troy Heck via Public Domain)