First though, Cyanobacteria, what kind of Alfa-Charlie-Foxtrot blog post ideas am I sharing here? It’s simple really, well they are simple enough, you would think as a proper life form to dedicate a first Epibiodev aka The Epinhood blog post towards. Surely, as an applied Epidemiologist, whose science is designing experiments, starting with an agent like Cyanobacteria to learn how to outcompete for a shared environment is advantageous. I definitely think the author of embedded article gets this in sharing their brilliant and timely observation of another scientist, in an affirming outcome to questions pondered in The Epinhood, where a case of cause and effective measure in defense of viable water imperiled by Cyanobacteria isn’t just the precedence– it is the very verdict sought.
It doesn’t have to be so legalistic though. Just start with the science of evolutionary biology, where Cyanobacteria have long been at the nexus of scientific inquiry and debate, starting with Darwin and definitely with Simpson and no-doubt up through horizontal gene transfer. We have more genetic data about them in the fossil record than any other life form. However in terms of the rate by which they evolve, Scientists had to create a special category for them because they evolve slower than all other life forms. I won’t belabor the Latin nomenclature here, but in translation their rate of evolution equates to evolving at a “stasis” pace. In medicine, for example, stasis is absence of circulating blood cells that leads to clotting and outcomes like asphyxia, shock, amputation, and death. Thus, when Cyanobacteria are detected in surface waters, like the scientist in China encounters, the scientific prescience about the impact this agent will have on the survival of everything else in the ecosystem, begins with what we know about their downright hypobradytely of a evolutionary history.
Ofcourse writing Cyanobacteria off as the slowest of all life forms is a bit a naive especially considering some of their strengths and accomplishments as a life form. For example, despite their hypobradytely and inability to sexually reproduce l, as a phylogeny they also happens to be the most extremophiles of hard core populated species and mos def prolif. These critters are everywhere folks.
And by saying everywhere I do not mean like as a Union Jack that never sets, or from sea to shining sea. No I mean go to the bottom of the deepest and hottest ocean cavity, and they are partying in that hole. Then turn around and drill down to the ancient heart of a glacial sea and they are kicking in there too. It’s almost like they are as common as the air we breathe, with the only difference being they actually created the oxygen in the air we breath today. It’s not like they are everywhere you find viable soil, it’s more like these little bastards are the original nitrogen fixation architects of the nutrients within the soil that empowered our brains and societies to go grow.
Yes taken as a whole I must admit picking Cyanobacteria as the initial foe to defeat might have been a little short sited for Cyanobacteria just might be the closest living embodiment of a an all powerful creator God we will encounter on this planet, and maybe that’s why we call them the blue green genus and Earth the blue green planet. It seems to me they are more deserving of ours common space and time than, and all the space and time before us and yet to come, even though we were the genus created in the creators image.
Infact, looking back on that intrepid Chinese researcher above, in defense of her/his phylogeny’s water — toe to toe against a Cyanobacteria foe that had all of the odds in its favor –somehow he managed to learn enough about the Cyanobacteria to defeat it and they did it with science, determination, sustainably and creativity! Even in the darkness, of the dying water we humans have wrought, I cannot help but find hope in my Chinese colleagues victory.