Valonia Ventricosa: A Mysterious Species of Alga

Valonia Ventricosa is a very unique species of alga that is usually found in tropical and sub-tropical areas, in oceans. It is also known as bubble algae and/or sailor’s eyeballs. It is a very interesting species of alga that is still being examined and researched upon. What makes it even more special is that it is one of the largest unicellular organisms.

Let’s get to know Valonia Ventricosa then, and all of its mysteries! It is quite interesting how it has so many names: “Valonia Ventricosa”, “Ventricaria Ventricosa”, “Bubble algae”, “Sailor’s eyeballs”, and “Sea Pearl”.

Bubble algae traits; characteristics.

To begin with, it is necessary to describe the shape of this alga and its external ; internal characteristics.

External characteristics

It is 1-4 centimeters long, although it can reach up to 5 centimeters, in some cases.

Usually, it is oval or spherical. It is filled with liquid, as its walls are very smooth and elastic (due to the membrane). Its shape is maintained because of the fact that it is filled with water. It is often described as a thallus. 

They produce colors that seem very glossy. As a matter of fact, their color sometimes changes. They are mostly green (sometimes dark, sometimes lighter shades of green) but in many cases, they have been found in silver and black color. The differentiation in color occurs because of the chloroplasts and their quantity in the alga. 

In addition, they are sometimes covered by other algae and that affects their color as well since they are photosynthetic and that contributes to their green color. Hence, when they are covered by other algae they can appear a bit whitish. 

Internal characteristics- Anatomy

Quite often, the internal anatomy of this alga is considered to be similar to a Tesla plasma ball.

Its structure is coenocytic. It is comprised of nuclei, vacuole, tonoplast, protoplasm, chromoplasts, microtubules, and cytoplasmic domains. Let’s see how all of these are connected and function altogether. 

First of all, we have one large vacuole, which is in the center and it is connected with almost everything else with lobules. It is also covered by tonoplast, a membrane that explicitly covers the main vacuole and is quite folded. Due to tonoplast, the protoplasm has a rather “spongy” texture.

Then, we have the cytoplasmic domains. They exist in large numbers and they each have a nucleus ( that’s where almost all genetic information is) and some chloroplasts. The cytoplasm they are made of is approximately 40 nm thick. These domains are connected through microtubules that are often called “bridges”. 

Protoplasm exists right under the cell wall, in a thin layer. 

Furthermore, a common problem that can occur easily is the loss of the thallus shape. When this occurs, chloroplasts cluster around the nuclei. That is when aplanospores are created and their peripheral membrane is the tonoplast of the vacuole. 

The most interesting part though is the cell walls. They are made of cellulose. Cellulose exists in every species of algae and plants, but we also use it in order to create plastic, synthetic fiber, and gun powder!

In addition, Valonia Ventricosa is also known to be able to regenerate quickly and to fix cell injuries efficiently and very quickly too. This happens because polysaccharide mucilage exists in the vacuole and it keeps organelles “glued” together.

What does valonia ventricosa eat?

Valonia ventricosa is an autotrophic organism that obtains energy from the sun. It is a photoautotroph. It uses the process of photosynthesis to produce its own food, glucose, from carbon dioxide and water. It also needs light for this process to occur. If it does not receive light for more than one hour, it will die.

Valonia ventricosa has some characteristics that are different from most plants and some that seem the same. It has a cell wall and chloroplasts, which is what most plants have. The cells in its branches are elongated and rectangular-shaped. They also contain two big vacuoles so they can store food and water for later use.

Is valonia ventricosa single celled organism?

The Valonia ventricosa is a single-celled organism. They use their chloroplasts for photosynthesis to be able to survive and do not have any nucleus present in their cells.

This organism is found in the microhabitats that include mangroves, salt marshes, and other places that are damp and moist. This organism is a plant that lives in the ocean and has been named after the place where it was found.

How does this species of alga reproduce?

This alga species is generally, a very solitary species and it does exist in groups. This influences reproduction, as they are considered to reproduce through asexual processes. 

Reproduction is achieved by cell division, during which the multinucleate “mother cell” forms “daughter cells”. Also, rhizoids produce new bubbles that get separated from the “mother cell”. 

There isn’t a lot of information, regarding their reproduction and the sexual relationships they probably form with each other in order to procreate.

Where is Valonia (Ventricraria) Ventricosa found?

As mentioned above, this species of alga lives in salty waters and oceans in tropical and sub-tropical areas. It has been observed that they live approximately 260 ft/ 80 meters below the surface of the water.  They are usually found on coral reefs and on rocks. 

They grow on coral reefs, at parts that are shaded and where strong wave action occurs. In summer, their communities can be seen ( if they are in groups). But, in monsoon periods and during Winter it is very hard to locate them on reefs. That’s when they usually go underwater ( up to 80 meters). 

They have been found all over the world but the largest communities live in China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Florida, and the Caribbean.

Why is it interesting enough to study?

This harmless little alga is of major interest to humanity. It has been studied for over a century now by marine and cell biologists as well as by electrophysiologists. 

Electrophysiology ( studies of the electrical activity that occurs in living organisms) is very significant for the study of this alga and its structure. Perhaps it can help us understand how can a great amount of electrical activity occur when the organism is in water.

There have also been efforts to study the ion transport, cellulose crystallization, and membrane formation of Valonia Ventricosa. 

Also, it has been studied because of the great amount of water transferred through its membranes.

Right now, there are over 2.000 research papers that examine this species of alga and explain its characteristics. Moreover, we still have many questions and know almost nothing about its reproduction and eating habits. 

On an ending note

Having learned all about Valonia Ventricosa, we can say with confidence that it is a very extraordinary organism and very interesting to study. Having its unique characteristics, it is one species of alga researchers and scientists love to study and examine. Even though we know some information about its characteristics and survival, future research might even provide us with more knowledge about Valonia Ventricosa- and we look forward to it!