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The Algae

- This chapter discusses the characteristics of a diverse polyphyletic

group of organisms known as the algae.
- They range from single cells to multicellular organisms over 75
meters in length.
- They are found in oceans and freshwater environments and are the
major producers of oxygen and organic material.
- A few algae live in moist soil and other terrestrial environments.
- They do not constitute a unique kingdom; instead they are found
within two of the five kingdoms previously discussed.

I. Introduction:
 Algae are plants or protists that lack roots,
stems, and leaves, but that have chlorophyll and other pigments for
carrying out oxygenic photosynthesis.
 Phycologists (algologists) are scientists who
study algae.
 Phycology (algology) is the study of algae.
II. Distribution of Algae:

- Algae are primarily aquatic, with a few terrestrial organisms growing on
moist surfaces.
 Planktonic: suspended in the aqueous
1. Phytoplankton: algae and other small aquatic plants.
2. Zooplankton: animals and other non-photosynthetic protists.
 Benthic: attached and living on the bottom of a
body of water.
 Neustonic: living at the air-water interface.
 Some algae are endosymbionts in protozoa,
mollusks, worms, corals, and plants.
 Some associate with fungi to form lichens.
III. Classification of Algae;
 Belong to seven divisions within two different
 Primary classification is based on cellular and
not organismal properties:
1. Cell wall (if present) chemistry and morphology.
2. Storage of food and photosynthetic products.
3. Types of chlorophyll molecules and accessory pigments.
4. Number of flagella and their insertion location.
5. Morphology of cells and/or thallus (body).
6. Habitat.

7. Reproductive structures.
8. Life history patterns.
 Molecular systems have reclassified the algae
as polyphyletic with diverse origins and associations.

IV. Ultrastructure of the Algal Cell:

 Surrounded by a thin, rigid cell wall (some

have an outer matrix also).
 When present, flagella are the locomotory
 Chloroplasts have thylakoids (sacs) that are the
site of photosynthetic light reactions.

 Chloroplasts have a dense proteinaceous
pyrenoid that is associated with the synthesis and storage of starch.
 The nucleus has a typical nuclear envelope
with pores.
V. Algal Nutrition:
- Can be either autotrophic or heterotrophic.
 Autotrophic: require only light and inorganic
compounds for energy; use CO2 as carbon source.
 Heterotrophic: use external organic materials
as source of energy and carbon.
VI. Structure of the Algal Thallus: (Vegetative Form)
 Unicellular.
 Colonial.
 Filamentous.
 Membranous.
 Tubular.

VII. Algal Reproduction:
A. Asexual: occurs only with unicellular algae.
1. Fragmentation: thallus breaks up and each fragment forms a
new thallus.
2. Spores formed in ordinary vegetative cell or in sporangium:
a. Zoospores are flagellated motile spores.
b. Aplanospores are nonmotile spores.
3. Binary fission: nuclear division followed by cytoplasmic
B. Sexual: occurs in multicellular and unicellular algae
1. Oogonia: relatively unmodified vegetative cells in which eggs
are formed.
2. Antheridia:specialized structures in which sperm are formed

3. Zygote: fusion of sperm and egg.
VIII. Characteristics of the Algal Divisions:
A. Chlorophyta (green algae)

 Contain chlorophylls a and b, and carotenoids; store

carbohydrate as starch; cell walls are made of cellulose
 Live in fresh and salt water, in soil, on and within other
 Have a variety of body types: unicellular, colonial,
filamentous, membranous, and tubular.
 Exhibit both asexual and sexual reproduction.
 Molecular classification places these with the land plants.
 Chlamydomonas: a representative unicellular green alga.
a. Microscopic, rounded, with two flagella at anterior end.
b. Single haploid nucleus.

c. A large chloroplast with conspicuous pyrenoid for starch
production and storage.
d. Stigma (phototactic eyespot).
e. Contractile vacuoles act as osmoregulators.
f. Asexual reproduction (zoospores) and sexual

 Protothecosis a human and animal

disease caused by the green alga, Prototheca moriformis
B. Charophyta (stoneworts/brittleworts)
 Abundant in fresh and brackish waters;
worldwide distribution.

 Some species precipitate calcium and
magnesium carbonate from water to form a limestone covering
(helps preserve members as fossils).
C. Euglenophyta (euglenoids)
 Same chlorophylls (a and b) as
Chlorophyta and Charophyta.
 Found in fresh and brackish waters, and
in moist soils.
 Molecular classification indicates the
euglenoids to be closely associated with the amoeboflagellates
(flagellated protozoa).
 Euglena.
a. Elongated cell bounded by a plasma membrane.
b. Stigma located near an anterior reservoir.
c. A pellicle (articulated proteinaceous strips lying side-by-
side) maintain a cellular shape that is somewhat flexible yet
rigid enough to prevent excessive alterations.
d. A large contractile vacuole collects water and empties it into
the reservoir for osmotic regulation
e. Paired flagella at anterior end arise from reservoir base; only
one beats to move the cell.
f. Reproduction is by longitudinal mitotic cell division.

D. Chrysophyta (golden-brown and yellow-green algae and diatoms)

 Molecular classification associates these

with the stramenophiles.

 Contain chlorophylls a and c1/c2, and the
carotenoid fucoxanthin.
 Some lack cell walls, some have
intricately patterned scales on the plasma membrane; diatoms
have a distinctive two-piece wall of silica called a frustule.
 Zero, one, or two flagella (of equal or
unequal length)
 Unicellular or colonial.
 Reproduction is usually asexual, but
occasionally sexual.
 Diatoms are photosynthetic, circular, or
oblong cells with overlapping silica shells.
a. Epitheca: larger half.
b. Hypotheca: smaller half.
Diatomaceous earth: deposits of empty diatom shells.
a. Used in detergents, polishes, paint removers, decolorizers,
deodorizers, and fertilizers.
b. Filtering agent.
c. Component in soundproofing and insulating materials.
d. Paint additive to increase night visibility of license plates
and signs.
E. Phaeophyta (brown algae)

 Multicellular seaweeds; some species
have the largest linear dimensions known in the eucaryotic
 Have branched filaments and more
complex arrangements; some (kelps) are differentiated into
flattened blades, stalks, and holdfast organs that anchor them to
 Sargassum forms huge floating masses.
 Contain chlorophylls a and c; carotenoids
include fucoxanthin, violaxanthin, and β -carotene.
 Molecular classification associates these
with the stramenophiles.

F. Rhodophyta (red algae)

 Some are unicellular, but most are

multicellular, filamentous seaweeds
 Comprise most of the seaweeds.
 Contain phycoerythrin (red pigment) and
phycocyanin (blue pigment), and can therefore live in deeper
 Their cell walls include a rigid inner part
composed of microfibrils and a mucilaginous matrix consisting
of sulfated polymers of galactose.

 One of the polymers, agar, is widely used
as a gelling agent in bacterial culture media.
 Many also deposit calcium carbonate in
their cell walls and contribute to coral reef formation.
G. Pyrrhophyta (dinoflagellates)
 They are unicellular, photosynthetic protists.
 Most are marine but a few are freshwater dwellers.
 Some are responsible for phosphorescence in ocean
 Two perpendicular flagella cause organisms to spin.
 Contain chlorophylls a and c, carotenoids, and
 Zooxanthellaesymbiotic dinoflagellates that have lost
their cellulose plates and flagella and that live within the cells of
other organisms.
 Responsible for toxic red tides; toxin is ingested by
shellfish (which are unaffected by it) and passed to those who
consume the shellfish.