Meet Valonia ventricosa! This little guy is a algae, and is famous for being on of the largest single-cell organisms.
These guys can be found in a myriad of tidal environments, and have been observed in nearly all oceans across the planet. This algae first caught my attention during out first snorkeling trip. These reflective spheres look alien next to the vibrant coral and drab rocks. So much so, that at first look I thought that it was some kind of misplaced toy that was forgotten on the reef.
V. ventricosa has gone somewhat ignored by ecologist, but not by all scientists. Interestingly, they have been sporadically studied across the past 100 years. As early as the 1937 biochemist and cellular biologists began to X-ray V. ventricosa’s cellular membrane with the hopes of understand how cells work. After that point, work began again in the 1960’s hoping to understand how sodium, water, and potassium move through the cell. So what other questions are asked to left about Valonia ventricosa? Well single cells don’t exist alone. They interact with an ecosystem and evolve to a changing environment. How does this algae manage this and maintain it’s single-cell lifestyle? I have no idea.
Preston, R. D., and W. T. Astbury. “The structure of the wall of the green alga Valonia ventricosa.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 122.826 (1937): 76-97.
Preston, R. D., and J. Cronshaw. “Constitution of the fibrillar and non-fibrillar components of the walls of Valonia ventricosa.” (1958): 248-250.