In this article, we are going to see the Algae Characteristics and Classification.
What are Algae?
Algae are defined as a group of predominantly aquatic, photosynthetic, and nucleus-bearing organisms that lack the true roots, stems, leaves, and specialized multi-cellular reproductive structures of plants.
Characteristics of Algae
- Algae are large particles with single, colon or multi-cellular cells.
- Multi-cellular algae develop specialized tissues but have no real stems, leaves, or roots.
- Most algae are aquatic, but some are semi-aquatic and terrestrial
- Cells containing photosynthetic chlorophyll and other pigments
- A cell wall of algae made up of cellulose and pectin.
- With a few exceptions, most algae are autotrophic; they have no vascular tissue.
- Most algae store carbohydrates as a preservative, a few members contain alcohol, fat or oil as a preservative.
- Reproduce by using vegetative, sexual and asexual methods. Sexual reproduction occurs through cracking or spore production. Sexual reproduction can be of isogamous, anisogamous, or oogamous species.
- Gametangia (reproductive organs) are always unicellular, if multi-cellular, they do not cover a layer of sterile cells.
- The zygote grows by mitosis or by cell division by meiosis. The zygote will never form an embryo.
- Cell division of meiosis is seen in different stages of the life cycle.
See also: Black Soil Crops
Classification of Algae
The 3 major classifications of algae are:
- Chlorophyceae – Commonly called as green algae, due to the presence of chlorophyll pigments a and b.
Eg: Chlamydomonas, Spirogyra, and Chara
- Phaeophyceae – Also known as brown algae, found especially in the sea. They have chlorophyll a, c, carotenoids and xanthophyll pigments.
Eg: Dictyota, Laminaria, and Sargassum
- Rhodophyceae – It is a red in colour due to the presence of a red pigment, r-phycoerythrin.
Eg: Porphyra, Gracilaria, and Gelidium.
The Importance of Algae
According to few scientists, algae produce half of the world’s oxygen which is considered as a significant effect of algae. Algae are a good source of crude oils and these algal biofuels can be used as an alternate to mineral oil.
Algae plays a key role in preserving the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The food industry also uses certain algae. Agar is found in Gelidium and Gracilaria and makes ice cream and gels. Other algae and most commonly used nutritional supplements are Chlorella and Spirulina.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article on algae characteristics and classification.