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Purple Joshua

Common NameEdit

Purple Joshua

Scientific NameEdit

Psuedoyucca porphyra


At first glance, the stems of this photobiont appeared to lack visible pigments. Closer examination revealed that the stems were covered with a thick waxy layer - on Earth, a sure sign of either too much water (air moisture that must be repelled to prevent fungal infections) or too little. (Keeping what water the organism has managed to grab inside the organism.) Either way, it's a good sign that this photobiont is striving to prevent moisture from either entering or escaping. The proximity to the ocean could mean that it's there to repel fog, but the squat, compact structure - it looks almost like a Joshua tree, or another Sonoran desert species - speaks to an evolutionary history of minimizing water loss. This photobiont also has bright orange 'feathers' that we've seen on a few other species. It's tempting to theorize that they're photosynthetic organs (or 'leaves') or that they have some reproductive purpose, but I'm avoiding conjecture until I have a means to test these hypotheses. --Jane Van Susteren, Exobiology Lead