Exposed to a wide range of daily and seasonal environmental stresses, Porphyra umbilicalis (red algae) resides in the intertidal zone. And the algae's ability to weather these extremes is exactly what interests scientists like John Stiller, associate professor and biologist at East Carolina University.
Baking suns, drying winds, rain water, sea water, freezing temperatures, red algae can and does weather quite a bit.
"Porphyra is one of the few algae, or organisms of any kind for that matter, that can thrive in these kinds of conditions," said Stiller, who specializes in the study of molecular evolutions and algal genomics. "Moreover, it has managed to persist in this environment through every mass extinction in the earth's history, includingthe great Permian extinction that wiped out 80 percent of the planet's species, and the end Cretaceous event that was responsible for the death of the dinosaurs."
John Stiller also served as primary researcher for the 50-member team led by the University of Maine, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and ECU, that sequenced and analyzed the genome for Porphyra umbilicalis.
For a more in-depth look at the research, and its possible applications, check out this article from The Daily Reflector.