Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Little Mermaid ends with the heartbroken protagonist throwing herself into the sea, her body dissolving into sea foam. But her life does not end there; she is given a new chance to obtain an immortal soul as an ethereal spirit. The surf zone, where waves break and form sea foam, is a dynamical place full of life. It is used by diverse fish assemblages as a feeding habitat and transit route, and even the foam itself harbors interesting contents. It forms on seawater rich in organic substances like proteins, lipids, and lignins which act as surfactants. The organic matter makes it an interesting, yet unstable ecological niche for some organisms, especially fungi. In this stressful environment, they need good strategies of survival. A study conducted on those sea foam-derived fungi found a high potential for the discovery of new antimicrobial compounds of agricultural and pharmaceutical interest.
Sources: Olds, Andrew et al., “The ecology of fish in the surf zones of ocean beaches: A global review”, Fish Fish, vol.19, issue. 78– 89, (2018).
Oppong-Danquah, E. et al., “Mining the Metabolome and the Agricultural and Pharmaceutical Potential of Sea Foam-Derived Fungi”, , vol. 18, (2020): 128.