Desert dust enables algae to grow EurekaAlert!

Biologists from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research have demonstrated that desert dust promotes the growth of algae. Scientists had already assumed that the iron in desert dust stimulated algal growth, but this has now been demonstrated for the first time. The researchers have published their findings in the December issue of the Journal of Phycology. The biologists cultured two species of diatoms in seawater originating from the iron-depleted Southern Ocean, the sea around the South Pole. The algae were supplied with dust from a desert in Mauritania and a desert in Namibia. The growth of algae which received a lot of dust was compared with that of algae which received little or no dust.