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Sea Weeds

Sea Weeds

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Published by: humanupgrade on Dec 22, 2009
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Seaweed is a loose colloquial term encompassing macroscopic, multicellular, benthic marine algae. The term includessome members of the red, brown and green algae. Seaweeds can also be classified by use (as food, medicine, fertilizer,industrial, etc.).Most people know two general categories of seaweeds: wracks (members of the brown algal order Fucales such as Fucus)and kelps (members of the brown algal order Laminariales such as Laminaria), and some have heard of Carrageen or IrishMoss (a red alga, Chondrus crispus) and Dulse or Dillisk (also a red alga, Palmaria palmata).Seaweeds are particularly important ecologically: they dominate the rocky intertidal in most oceans, and in temperate and polar regions cover rock surfaces in the shallow subtidal. Although only penetrating to 8-40 m in most oceans, some arefound to depths of 250 m in particularly clear waters
Taxonomy
A seaweed may belong to one of several groups of multicellular algae: the red algae, green algae, and brown algae. Asthese three groups are not thought to have a common multicellular ancestor, the seaweeds are a paraphyletic group. Inaddition, some tuft-forming bluegreen algae (Cyanobacteria) are sometimes considered as seaweeds — "seaweed" is acolloquial term and lacks a formal definition.
Seaweed genera
Caulerpa, Fucus, Gracilaria, Laminaria, Macrocystis, Monostroma, Porphyra
Structure
Seaweeds' appearance somewhat resembles non-arboreal terrestrial plants.
thallus:
the algal body
lamina
: a flattened structure that is somewhat leaf-like
sorus
: spore cluster 
on Fucus,
air bladders
: float-assist organ (on blade)
on kelp
 , floats
: float-assist organ (between lamina and stipe)
stipe
: a stem-like structure, may be absent
holdfast:
specialized basal structure providing attachment to a surface, often a rock or another alga.
haptera
: finger-like extensions of holdfast anchoring to benthic substrate
The stipe and blade are collectively known as the
 frond.
Ecology
The ecology of seaweeds is dominated by two specific environmental requirements. These are the presence of seawater (or at least brackish water) and the presence of light sufficient to drive photosynthesis. A very common requirement isalso to have a firm point of attachment. As a result, seaweeds are most commonly found in the littoral zone and withinthat zone more frequently on rocky shores than on sand or shingle. The ecological niches utilised by seaweeds are wideranging. At the highest level are those that inhabit the zone that is only wetted by the tops of sea spray, the deepest livingare those that are attached to the seabed under several meters of water.In some parts of the world, the area colonized by littoral seaweeds can extend for several miles away from the shore. Thelimiting factor in such cases is the availability of sufficient sun-light to support photosynthesis. The deepest livingseaweeds are the various kelps. In addition to the familiar seashore seaweeds, a number of species have adapted to a fully planktonic niche and are free-floating, often with the assistance of gas filled sacs. Sargassum is one of the better knownexamples of this type of seaweed.A number of species have adapted to the specialised environment of tidal rock pools. In this niche seaweeds are able towithstand rapidly changing temperature and salinity and even occasional drying.
Uses
Seaweed has a variety of purposes, for which it is farmed, or foraged from the wild.
 
Food
Seaweeds are extensively used as food by coastal people, particularly in East Asia, e.g. Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan,Thailand, and Vietnam, but also in Indonesia, Belize, Peru, the Canadian Maritimes, Scandinavia, Ireland, Wales,Philippines, and Scotland, among other places. Tiwi, Albay residents discovered a new pancit or noodles made fromseaweed, which has health benefits. It is rich in calcium and magnesium and the seaweed noodles can be cooked into pancit canton, pancit luglug, spaghetti or carbonara.Seaweeds are also harvested or cultivated for the extraction of alginate, agar and carrageenan, gelatinous substancescollectively known as hydrocolloids or phycocolloids. Hydrocolloids have attained commercial significance, especially infood production as food additives. The food industry exploits the gelling, water-retention, emulsifying and other physical properties of these hydrocolloids. Agar is used in foods such as confectionery, meats and poultry products, desserts and beverages and moulded foods. Carrageenan is used in preparation of salad dressings and sauces, dietetic foods, and as a preservative in meat and fish products, dairy items and baked goods. Alginates enjoy many of the same uses ascarrageenan, but are also used in production of industrial products such as paper coatings, adhesives, dyes, gels,explosives and in processes such as paper sizing, textile printing, hydro-mulching and drilling.
Medicine
In the biomedicine and pharmaceutical industries, alginates are used in wound dressings, and production of dental mouldsand have a host of other applications. In microbiology research, agar is extensively used as culture medium. Carrageenans,alginates and agaroses (the latter are prepared from agar by purification), together with other lesser-known macroalgal polysaccharides, also have several important biological activities or applications in biomedicine.Seaweed is also a known source of iodine, an element necessary for thyroid function with deficiencies leading to goitre. Ithas been asserted that seaweeds may have curative properties for tuberculosis, arthritis, colds and influenza, worminfestations and even tumors. [dubious – discuss] A number of research studies have been conducted to investigate theseclaims and other effects of seaweed on human health
Other uses
Other seaweeds may be used as seaweed fertilizer. Seaweed is currently being researched as a potential source of biofuelin the form of bioethanol. Seaweed is also an ingredient in some toothpaste, cosmetics and paints.
Groups of Multicellular Algae
Phaeophyceae: Brown Algae
Examples: Laminaria and Saccharina, Fucus, Sargassum muticumThe brown colour of these algae results from the dominance of the xanthophyll pigment fucoxanthin, which masks theother pigments, Chlorophyll a and c (no Chlorophyll b), beta-carotene and other xanthophylls. Food reserves are typicallycomplex polysaccharides, sugars and higher alcohols. The principal carbohydrate reserve is laminaran, and true starch isabsent (compare with the green algae). The walls are made of cellulose and alginic acid, a long-chainedheteropolysaccharide.There are no known unicellular or colonial representatives; the simplest plant form is a branched, filamentous thallus. Thekelps are the largest (up to 70 m long) and perhaps the most complex brown algae, and they are the only algae known tohave internal tissue differentiation into conducting tissue; there is, however, no true xylem tissue as found in the 'higher' plants.There are about 1800 species of brown algae, and most are marine. In general, brown algae are larger and more speciesare found in colder waters. Virtually all the biomass worldwide comes from a relatively small number of species in theorders Laminariales and Fucales. The total wholesale value of dried brown algae worldwide collected in the wild or cultivated is less than $100 million dollars.
Chlorophyta: Green Algae
Examples: Chlamydomonas, Spirogyra, Ulva.

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