Digital archive of microalgae

Climatic extremes and human-induced acceleration of habitat degradation resulted in an alarming loss of the Earth’s biodiversity. While species extinctions are well documented for macroscopic taxa, our information on the loss of microbes including algae tends to zero. The notion that microscopic creatures are cosmopolitan and not threatened by extinctions represents a rather myopic view of the real situation. A recent inventory of microalgae in Hungary revealed the presence of ~2,500 taxa, amongst more than 800 were observed only once in the last 130 years. The rarely observed species, furthermore, occurred mostly in specific habitats such as in ponds, bogs, or bog-pools. These small water bodies are, however, among the most endangered habitats of our planet.

We think that showing the beauty of microalgae will raise awareness among people to appreciate and protect these habitats. Since drawings or microphotographs cannot give us the nice details of algal cells or colonies, we use real like 3D images of algae that enables to visualise both outer and inner structures. Our aim is that using the original species descriptions, drawings and microphotographs we can create the 3D image of each microalgal morphospecies. As microalgal species number ranges between ~30-50 thousand, creation of images requires huge effort from the PANDORINA team, however we consider it as an ongoing project which will grow with the community’s help.