Please stop calling them pond scum

Gonium pectorale. Credit: Kansas State University.

Gonium pectorale. Credit: Kansas State University.

Yes, they live in ponds; no they don’t form any kind of scum. The press release from Kansas State on the Gonium genome paper, which is reprinted here, here, and here, is titled “Pond scum and the gene pool: One critical gene in green algae responsible for multicellular evolution, understanding of cancer origin.” Gonium forms planktonic colonies of (usually) 8, 16, or 32 cells that swim under their own power and exhibit phototaxis (they’ll swim toward a light source). They are not pond scum. ‘Algae’ and ‘pond scum’ are not synonyms, dig? Leaving aside the distinction between algae and cyanobacteria, calling Gonium pond scum is like saying pineapples are lemons (because both are fruits).

Also…cancer origin, really? You went there? The word ‘cancer’ does not appear in the paper except in the funding acknowledgements (Bradley Olson is partly funded by the KSU Johnson Cancer Center).


  1. says

    I see what you mean, but maybe it’s just a distance-from-subject sort of thing: I mean to inhabitants of the planet ZXZXZXZX algae and cyanobacteria and trees and humans are all just Earth Scum 🙂

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