Perhaps you have heard of Spirulina?  For good reasons, some of you probably take Spirulina supplements every day.  You may already know that it makes you feel good; and that it has the benefits of a functional food.  Did you know that Spirulina and another bluegreen algae, AFA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae), are linked to an increase in progenitor cells in your bloodstream?  Progenitor cells and adult stem-cells are linked to anti-aging.  Adult stem-cells, also known as primitive cells, replace old or damaged cells in our bodies.  The results can be an improvement in heart function, improved vision, and other benefits.

 

Spirulina is widely available and it is a really good functional food.  AFA is a rare functional food that has some properties that are similar to Spirula and some interesting characteristics that are unique to AFA.  Because AFA is rare, hard to grow, and offers many benefits to the human body; I decided to grow AFA in my lab.  Over the course of the past three years, I have seen this beautiful bluegreen go from microscopic, translucent, almost invisible particles to organized deep bluegreen colonies of phytoplankton.

There are some interesting things that have occurred over the past several years with AFA.  By example, six days ago, I noticed a cluster of dense bluegreen algae, which normally dances around the upper layers of an aquarium was a little pale.  The normally long, green, stringy tail had taken on a brownish appearance.  This was a sign that the AFA needed more food.  Food for AFA comes from the nutrients in the water and from the sunlight.  AFA, like Spirulina, draws energy through sunlight and photosynthesis. Given that the lighting in the lab is good, the AFA needed some nutritional media.  

On Thursday, February 15th 2018, I mixed up some water-based media for the AFA and gently added it to the enclosure.  On Friday the cluster of phytoplankton was again bluegreen.  By the end of the next day the cluster was deeply bluegreen and had taken on the disc-like shape with a puffier outer diameter and a more slender center.  The ever-present trailing tail was again lusciously green.

Three days ago the Cluster was no longer floating around the aquarium like some prototypical fish with a tail.  It had descended about five inches into the murky deep to join the mass of AFA already living along the bottom.

Three days ago was Sunday, February, 18th.  The temperatures were cool in my geographic area, but a warming trend was underway.  Monday morning it was warm enough to only wear a light jacket on an early morning walk in the park.  Later that day the temperatures reached the mid-70’s.  By Tuesday, a cooling trend was apparent.  Tuesday was uncomfortably cool and rainy.  Today, Wednesday we had a dusting of snow and some sleet.  Now, we are expecting ice with temperatures in the low 20’s.  Still no sign of the cluster of AFA which danced around the surface of enclosure three for over a year.

Given the correlation of a cold front from the North and the dive of the AFA; I have to wonder if the cluster knew that snow, sleet, and ice were on the way.

History of the cluster.  The cluster of phytoplankton in photobioreactor three was one of the first organized bodies of AFA to grow.  This cluster organized in the first year of my growing AFA.  I think of it as a sort of “mother cell.”  Clearly, it is a living thing.  Over the years, I have seen it float counterclockwise around whatever enclosure I placed it in.  Occasionally, it rotates in a clockwise fashion.  Bodies of AFA, and Spirulina are known to change their shape as a way of moving around.  On warm days AFA can be seen riding the water column.  After a few rides on the water column, many string-like clusters of AFA will rest for a while and then may or may not take another ride.

If it is more than a coincidence that AFA responds to snow, ice, and sleet by departing the surface for deeper areas, one has to wonder.  How does AFA know that bad weather is coming?  Another curiosity is how do AFA and Spirulina lead to an increase in progenitor cells?  How does AFA, taken over time, lead to an increase in effective heart function, improved eyesight, or an increase of low levels of B-12 to really good levels of B-12?  We don’t know all of the mechanisms of these effects.  However, people who benefit from taking AFA and Spirulina appreciate the advantage.

 

REFERENCE

Ku, C.S., Yang, Y, Park, Y, & Lee (2013).  J. Health Benefits of Blue-Green Algae: Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Journal of Medicinal Food 16(2): 103-111.   Available:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576896/