Nuclear War Could Trigger Big El Niño and Decrease Seafood

A nuclear war could trigger an unprecedented El Niño-like warming episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, slashing algal populations by 40 percent and likely lowering the fish catch, according to a Rutgers-led study. The research, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, shows that turning to the oceans for food if land-based farming fails after a nuclear war is unlikely to be a successful strategy – at least in the equatorial Pacific.

Earth to reach temperature tipping point in next 20 to 30 years, new NAU study finds

Postdoctoral scholar Katharyn Duffy led an international team that looked at 20 years of data from throughout the world and found that record-breaking temperates are contributing to a significant decrease in plants’ ability to absorb human-caused carbon emissions.

How Did Red Algae Survive in Extreme Environments?

Red algae have persisted in hot springs and surrounding rocks for about 1 billion years. Now, a Rutgers-led team will investigate why these single-celled extremists have thrived in harsh environments – research that could benefit environmental cleanups and the production of biofuels and other products.

How to Get a Handle on Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Plants

How much carbon dioxide, a pivotal greenhouse gas behind global warming, is absorbed by plants on land? It’s a deceptively complicated question, so a Rutgers-led group of scientists recommends combining two cutting-edge tools to help answer the crucial climate change-related question.

Light a Critical Factor in Limiting Carbon Uptake, Even in the North

A new Columbia Engineering study demonstrates that even when temperatures warm and cold stress is limited, light is still a major factor in limiting carbon uptake of northern high latitudes. The team analyzed satellite observations, field measurements, and model simulations and showed that there is a prevalent radiation limitation on carbon uptake in northern ecosystems, especially in autumn.

Untangling a key step in photosynthetic oxygen production

Researchers zeroed in on a key step in photosynthesis in which a water molecule moves in to bridge manganese and calcium atoms in the catalytic complex that splits water to produce breathable oxygen. What they learned brings them one step closer to obtaining a complete picture of this natural process, which could inform the next generation of artificial photosynthetic systems that produce clean and renewable energy from sunlight and water. Their results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today.

Algae in the Oceans Often Steal Genes from Bacteria

Algae in the oceans often steal genes from bacteria to gain beneficial attributes, such as the ability to tolerate stressful environments or break down carbohydrates for food, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.
The study of 23 species of brown and golden-brown algae, published in the journal Science Advances, shows for the first time that gene acquisition had a significant impact on the evolution of a massive and ancient group of algae and protists (mostly one-celled organisms including protozoa) that help form the base of oceanic food webs.

Switching tracks: Reversing electrons’ course through nature’s solar cells

Think of a train coming down the tracks to a switch point where it could go either to the right or the left — and it always goes to the right. Photosynthetic organisms have a similar switch point. New research from Washington University in St. Louis and Argonne National Laboratory coaxes electrons down the track that they typically don’t travel

Red Algae Thrive Despite Ancestor’s Massive Loss of Genes

You’d think that losing 25 percent of your genes would be a big problem for survival. But not for red algae, including the seaweed used to wrap sushi. An ancestor of red algae lost about a quarter of its genes roughly one billion years ago, but the algae still became dominant in near-shore coastal areas around the world, according to Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Debashish Bhattacharya, who co-authored a study in the journal Nature Communications.

Scientists Discover Key Factors in How Some Algae Absorb Solar Energy

Scientists have discovered how diatoms – a type of algae that produces 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen – absorb solar energy for photosynthesis. The Rutgers University-led discovery, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help lead to more efficient and affordable algae-based biofuels and combat climate change from fossil fuel burning.