NS4377 : Cyanobacteria - Nostoc pruniforme

taken 11 years ago, 3 km from Milton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Cyanobacteria - Nostoc pruniforme
Cyanobacteria - Nostoc pruniforme
The dark blobs shown here are colonies of cyanobacteria (formerly called "blue-green algae", they are bacteria which perform photosynthesis). The colonies are growing on damp limestone, close to the Roughting Burn. They have an outer membrane; inside, chains of green cells are suspended in a brown gel. These colonies are less than a centimetre across, but others nearby formed irregular fused brown masses, several centimetres across.

The ones in this photo are not very typical in appearance; they are rather flattened in form, apparently as a result of only the base of each colony being in water. For more normal-looking specimens, see NS3977 : Cyanobacteria - Nostoc pruniforme. A flat piece that I removed for examination had become round by the time I arrived home.

Nostoc is often found in a free-living state, as shown here, but 10% of lichen species also contain cyanobacteria (rather than algae), the most common such genus being Nostoc.

The name Nostoc (originally "Nostoch") is one of several words coined by Paracelsus (1493-1541), who wrote: "Nostoch understandeth the nocturnal pollution of some plethoriall and wanton Star, or rather excrement blown from the nostrills of some rheumatick planet ... in consistence of jelly". Even today, some refer to mysterious jelly-like substances found outdoors as "star jelly" or "star snot"; see NS3878 : Mystery blob of jelly in the woods.

Compare NS3977 : Cyanobacteria - Nostoc commune.
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NS4377, 143 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Monday, 11 May, 2009   (more nearby)
Thursday, 21 May, 2009
Geographical Context
Rivers, Streams, Drainage 
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Closeup  Life 
Near (from Tags)
The Overtoun Burn 
Algae   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4372 7763 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.9700N 4:30.3236W
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OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4372 7763
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NORTH (about 0 degrees)
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Other Tags
Cyanobacteria  Nostoc  Bacteria 

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