Symbiosis is visible throughout biology. Red-billed Oxpeckers pluck ticks from hooved-mammals and hitch a free ride in exchange for a good cleaning. Clownfish, immune to an anemone’s sting, are protected from predators as they defend the anemone from hungry butterflyfish. We even depend on trillions of microorganisms living in our digestive system. There are abundant examples of mutualism and symbiosis, but we don’t see many between humans and plant life.
Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, the duo behind Burton Nitta, a futurist art and design group, have imagined what it might be like for humans to adopt a symbiotic relationship with algae. The algaculture symbiosis suit simulates a mutualist scenario between humans and plants.
Composed of a facemask-like object formed by a clump of plastic tubing, the symbiosis suit delivers algae to us as a food source. In effect, humans will be semi-photosynthetic by consuming algae that has absorb energy from sunlight. The algae would then live in our organs and continue to reproduce, giving us a constant source of food.
It’s becoming difficult to grow and preserve enough agriculture to satiate a growing population. The algaculture symbiosis suit introduces an option to solve food shortage problems. Because the suit operates as a symbiotic relationship between humans and plants, it gives us the opportunity to constantly examine and understand biological processes like photosynthesis and mutualism.
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Photo Credit: Burton Nitta
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