132/150: What’s green, marine and a potential killing machine? Sea Lettuce!

Plantae: Chlorophyta: Ulvophyceae: Ulvales: Ulvaceae: Ulva: Ulva lactuca Linnaeus 1753

Although it resembles terrestrial salad greens, Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce) is a species of aquatic green algae. The bright green ruffled edge “leaves” are composed of 2 layers of cells, found free floating or attached to surfaces in areas with exposed rocks and tide pools. Ulva lactuca is edible, and can be added to salads or soups, or used in medicine. However, this nutritious chlorophyte has a dark side. When large concentrations of sea lettuce die, the rotting algae uses up large amounts of oxygen, potentially suffocating other aquatic species (eutrophication). When large quantities of the rotting algae washes up on shore, it produces toxic hydrogen sulfide gas, which can be a public safety risk. Although it can be tolerated in low doses, short term high exposure to fumes by unlucky beachgoers has led to documented cases of collapse, loss of breathing and even death! Watch out for killer lettuce! #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

The humble sea lettuce, a type of algae. Photo Credit: H. Krisp goo.gl/4sX6HV
Sea lettuce washed up on a beach. Photo Credit: Ecomare/Oscar Bos goo.gl/fr9UUZ
A SEA of Sea Lettuce! Photo Credit: Ria Tan goo.gl/TPWMwZ

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: ULVA558-09

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Sea lettuce

51/150: A pea, or not a pea?

Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Fabales: Fabaceae: Lupinus: Lupinus sericeus (Pursh)

As attractive and colourful as this pea family member may be, the silky lupine holds its own dark secrets. Native to Manitoba and British Columbia in Western Canada, this stunning plant has been discovered to produce toxic alkaloids known to cause adverse consequences and even death to its consumers, which are typically domesticated livestock such as sheep, goats and cattle. Continue reading “51/150: A pea, or not a pea?”