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Chlorella, which attracts tremendous popularities around the world today as a basic health food, has an extremely long history. The Earth came into existence about 4.6 billion years ago, and the existence of organisms can be traced back to about 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. Eukaryotic cell, which belongs to the same kind as Chlorella, comes into existence on earth about over 2 billion years ago during the pre-Cambrian period. This is demonstrated by chlorella-like fossil excavated from a stratum from the pre-Cambrian period. According to the latest gene analysis of Chlorella, it was 540 million years ago that Chlorella and Chlamydomonas diverged from a common ancestor. Since then, chlorella has survived every convulsion of nature in the long history and remained unchanged until today.
Why could Chlorella survive every convulsion of nature in the long history and remain unchanged even as it is today? One of several reasons is that chlorella is so tiny with 3 to 8 micrometers in diameter, and also covered by tough outer cell wall to protect its internal organs from outside environmental changes. Another reason is that it has a rapid reproductive ability. There are two ways in reproduction of creatures: one is sexual reproduction and the other is asexual reproduction. Chlorella is an asexual reproducible plant. It divides four times every 20-24 hours. As a result, one cell reproduces 4 new cells the next day and 16 cells the day after. Chlorella has kept reproducing continuously since over 2 billion years ago.
Chlorella - a savior of food shortage
It was about 100 years ago at the end of 19th century when human beings discovered live chlorella. Chlorella was first discovered by a Dutch microbiologist - Dr. Bilink, and was named after "chlor" which means green and "ella" which means a small thing. At the very end of the 1930s, Dr. Lidner in Germany reported that Chlorella contains a great volume of proteins with good qualities, and this discovery caused a sensation in the world. Many researches on Chlorella were performed in the world under an idea that Chlorella could be useful as a future food source.
Although those researches were interrupted by the World War II, they were resumed right after the war. Both of the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R. investigated Chlorella as a space food and began to cultivate it. In order to resolve the food insecurity after the war in Japan, the researches on full-scale culture of Chlorella were started suggested by Carnegie Research Laboratory. However, the interest in Chlorella had gradually vanished due to the low harvesting efficiency, high cost, and bumper crop of rice.
Later on, Chlorella attracted attention again after being recognized its enormous health effects. In the middle of the 1960s, Chlorella came into the world market as a health food and became much more popular in the next decade. Since 1970s, the market of Chlorella has been growing as a synonym of health food.
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