Invertebrate vs. Photosynthesis should be S3 highlight

[The Theme from Chariots of Fire playing]

Craig: From 64 to 32 and now to the Sweet 16. In today’s post, we follow the journeys of two strong teams, Invertebrates and Photosynthesis as they navigated the ranks of the Octopus Bracket to face off in the 3rd round of the Spring Science Showdown (S3). We turn to Peter Etnoyer, our man in the field, to discuss the rise of Team Photosynthesis.

Peter: Indeed tree huggers everywhere were angered when photosynthesis was the only team from Division Plantae 1A to be selected for the tournament.

Craig: As I understand it, Photosynthesis has failed to floor a team in some games.

Peter: That’s right. Early this season they forfeited games in Methane Seep Arena and merely three games later at Hydrothermal Coliseum. The second forfeit occurred under unusual circumstances when only one team member arrived on the court. Yet these pretournament hardships have not hindered this underdog of epic proportions against teams in S3. Photosynthesis massacred Respiration (137-56) in a game that ultimately changed the court to an open-air arena minutes before the game. The original stadium was inadvertently filled up by equipment from the neighboring Genomics vs Proteomics match-up. This unexpected change led to victory for Photosynthesis who was able to harness the Sun’s (the star not the sports team) power.

Craig: Amazing…

Peter: Not amazing just chemistry and physics. In the next round, Photosynthesis squeaked by favorite Genomics (59-58) by displaying a remarkable strategy by loading their starters with eukaryotes to protect their chemical reactions in intracellular organelles.

Craig: It seems that Photosynthesis is quick to evolve to a changing game?

Peter: Indeed. An effort by Genomics to sequence the entire genome of all Photosynthesis players ultimately did not reveal the Photosynthesis offense. Further sequencing efforts failed to match the diversity of players seen within Team Photosynthesis.

Craig: Do you think the diversity of Photosynthesis’ players is enough to take on the Invertebrates?

Peter: As you mention Team Photosynthesis as a deep roster with over 650,000 players among the plants and algae. They are going to have to reach in to the reserves and pull out some players from cyanobacteria if they are going to match 1.5 million players Team Invertebrate will bring to the match.

Craig: Now we turn Kevin Zelnio to discuss tournament favorite Team Invertebrate

Kevin: Top seeded Invertebrates definitely are a favorite in this tournament. The Invertebrates quashed the Vertebrates (76-59) in the first round. With a similar strategy to Photosynthesis, Invertebrates relied primarily on the depth of the roster to break down the Vertebrate defense and offense. Architeuthis lead in points, assists, rebounds, and pretty much every other stat. In a surprising appearance, the rarely seen colossal squid managed nine assists

Craig: Why not a better game from the colossal squid? Is it true that Architeuthis never moved from the centerline?

Kevin: Architeuthis maintained its position midcourt defending with 1 tentacle and 4 arms and scoring with the others. Unfortunately, the colossal squid although heavier than the giant squid, does not have the long reach. In round two, the Invertebrates faced off against ninth seeded Surgeons who were simply ill equipped to deal with the diversity of bauplane (158-37). From pedal muscles in mollusks to dorsal hearts in arthropods, the Surgeons were lost. Grasshopper led the Invertebrates in scoring with 62 points.

Craig: The Invertebrates have been the center of both insult and injury and continuously besieged by controversy.

Kevin: That is correct. Early on the Surgeons insulted the Invertebrates for suiting a lancelet. However, the judges of systematics and taxonomy ruled in favor of Invertebrates citing that while it was a member of the phylum Chordata, is not a vertebrate because it lacks a spine. This came on the early verbal attacks of Surgeons referring to all Invertebrates as bugs. In accordance with previous speculation, the colossal squid will definitely not return for the rest of the tournament. A tentacle strain in the last game was over-iced and team doctors have been unable to dethaw the behemoth. Team Invertebrate is also the center of controversy centering on the offending statements made by Point Lumbricus terrestris last week to the press combined with statements made to an officer during a routine traffic stop.

Interview with Lumbricus airs: “The problem with surgeons is that their hackers. Their all MD’s anyway not DVM in the bunch. How much talent does it take to know one species?”

Craig: It appears the this earthworm has gone bad.

Kevin: Several Team Invertebrate players may also face suspension from the remaining tournament as several players were seen digesting Photosynthesis players at day nightclub.

Craig: So what are fourth seeded Photosynthesis’ chances against top seeded Invertebrates?

Kevin: As Peter mentioned it is unlikely Photosynthesis can compete unless they draw on cyanobacteria reserve members. If Invertebrates reach deep into their roster to pull players out of the Seep and Vent leagues it may be over for Photosynthesis.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

2 comments on “Invertebrate vs. Photosynthesis should be S3 highlight
  1. Team photosynthesis includes the bacteria that you ignore, such as Rhodobacter sphaeroides, the “lab rat” used to study Type II reaction centers found in plants and algae that you do consider. There are also the RuBisCo-challenged bacterial cousins of Rhodobacter, the aerobic anoxygenic phototrophs. I think when you add these microbes into Team Photosynthesis they cannot lose. Furthermore, an ancestor of Rhodobacter likely was engulfed to become the mitochondria of higher taxa….what team then do all mitochondiral-containing species call home? Maybe all teams are actually on the same side.

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