Press Releases

Dr. Melissa Baustian Co-authors Melitasphaeridium Choanophorum – A Living Fossil Dinoflagellate Cyst in the Gulf of Mexico

Jul 27, 2016

Baton Rouge, La. — Melissa Baustian, Ph.D., Coastal Ecologist at The Water Institute of the Gulf recently co-authored a manuscript published in the Journal Palynology, sharing the study of pollen grains, cysts, and other spores, especially as found in geological deposits.

The team of researchers analyzed sediment samples on the Louisiana Continental Shelf (initially taken for Baustian’s Ph.D. research) to characterize dinoflagellate cysts - the spores produced by plankton (dinoflagellates) when environmental conditions become unfavorable that eventually sink to the seafloor.

This study shows conclusive evidence that a cyst from a dinoflagellate that was initially thought to be extinct but is still living in the northern Gulf of Mexico and is considered a “living fossil”. This finding suggests that the Gulf may have acted as a refugium for some warm-water dinoflagellates during past glaciations. 

Read more about this study here.

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