How opalescent algae glow, as reported in Science (AAAS) News 13 April 2018 ScienceDaily 17 April 2018 and Live Science 20 April 2018 and Science Advances 11 April 2018 doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aan8917.

Scientists at University of Bristol have studied the microscopic structure of a seaweed named Cystoseira tamariscifolia, which grows and glows in the tidal regions on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe.  It belongs to a group of seaweeds called “brown algae” which in bright sunlight is a dull black-brown colour, but in dim light has a green-blue iridescence, which justifies its common name of “rainbow wrack”.

The researchers found the colour is produced by tiny oil droplets packed together in highly organised structures that diffract light in the same way the tiny silica spheres give opal gemstones their shimmering colour. But unlike the solid opal crystals, which stay in the same arrangement, the seaweed assembles and disassembles the photonic crystals as light conditions change.

The opalescent structures direct light onto the chloroplasts – the structures in the cells where photosynthesis occurs. The research team called this process “light-induced dynamic structural colour” and suggest it enables the seaweed to make better use of low light conditions when it is submerged at high tide.

Martin Lopez-Garcia, an expert in nanotechnology and optics, commented: “The formation of opals from oil droplets is a completely new discovery.  If nanotechnologists were able to understand and mimic the dynamic properties of this seaweed opal, we may in the future have biodegradable, switchable display technology that may be used in packaging or very efficient, low cost solar cells.”

Live Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: How amazing!  A so-called primitive plant can do what intelligent scientists and engineers have yet to do with nanotechnology and photonics.  Not only does the seaweed make the oil droplets the right size, but it also organises them into a light scattering structure to disperse light to the right place when needed.  This means the plant must monitor the changing light and conditions, as well as have a mechanism to gather droplets into the right structure at the right time and disperse them when not needed.  It is not until all these components are functioning that this system is of any use to the plant.

Those who are studying this plant are without excuse for ignoring the God who created both the light and the plant that makes such good use of it.

Evidence News vol. 18, No 4
2 May 2018
Creation Research Australia

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