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write date : 2011-09-08 22:30:58   

Classification of Algae

The classification of algae into taxonomic groups is based upon the  same rules that are used for the classification of land plants, but the  organization of groups of algae above the order level has changed  substantially since 1960. Research using electron microscopes has  demonstrated differences in features, such as the flagellar apparatus,  cell division process, and organelle structure and function, that are  important in the classification of algae. Similarities and differences  among algal, fungal, and protozoan groups have led scientists to propose  major taxonomic changes, and these changes are continuing.
Division-level  classification, as with kingdom-level classification, is tenuous for  algae. For example, some phycologists place the classes  Bacillariophyceae, Phaeophyceae, and Xanthophyceae in the division  Chromophyta, whereas others place each class in separate divisions:  Bacillariophyta, Phaeophyta, and Xanthophyta. Yet, almost all  phycologists agree on the definition of the respective classes  Bacillariophyceae, Phaeophyceae, and Xanthophyceae.
The classes are distinguished by the structure of  flagellate cells (e.g., scales, angle of flagellar insertion,  microtubular roots, and striated roots), the nuclear division process  (mitosis), the cytoplasmic division process (cytokinesis), and the cell  covering. Many scientists combine the Micromonadophyceae with the  Pleurastrophyceae, naming the combined group the Prasinophyceae.  “Phylum” and “division” represent the same level of  organization; the former is the zoological term, the latter is the  botanical term
Properties of Major Algal Taxonomic Groups
S.No Taxonomic Group Chlorophyll Carotenoids Bilo
Storage products Flagellation &Cell structure
1. Bacillariophyta a, c β-carotene
± -carotene  rarely fucoxanthin,.
1 apical  flagellum in male gametes:
cell in two halves with elaborate
2. Chloro
(green algae)
a, b β-carotene,
± -carotene
rarely  carotene
and lycopene,
Starch, oils 1,2,4 to many,
equal, apical  or
subapical flagella.
3. Chrysophycophyta
(golden algae)
a, c , β-carotene,
1 or 2 unequal, apical flagella, in some, cell  surface covered by characteristic scales.
4. Cyanobacteria
(blue green algae)
a,c β-carotene,
5. Phaeco
(brown algae)
a,c β-carotene, ±
Laminarin, soluble
carbohydrates,  oils
2 lateral flagella
6. Dinophyta
a,c β-carotene,
Starch, oils 2 lateral, 1 trailing,1 girdling flagellum, in  most, there
is a longitudinal
and transverse
furrow and angular plates.
7. Rhodo
(red algae )
a, rarely d β-carotene, zeaxanthin
± β  carotene
Floridean starch
Flagella absent

Where do Algae Grow?


Where do Algae Grow? – Algae Growth Environments

Algae are some of the most robust organisms on earth, able to grow in a wide range of conditions.
Algae are usually found in damp places or bodies of water and thus are common in terrestrial as well as aquatic environments. However, terrestrial algae are usually rather inconspicuous and far more common in moist, tropical regions than dry ones, because algae lack vascular tissues and other adaptions to live on land
As mentioned above, algea grow in almost every habitat in every part of the world. The following are examples of non-marine habitats.
  • Animals: Reported substrates include turtles, snails, rotifers, worms, crustacean, alligators, three-toed sloths, aquatic ferns, freshwater sponges and some other animals.
  • Aquatic plantsAlgae grow on and inside water plants (including other algae)
  • Artificial substrates: Wooden posts and fences, cans and bottles etc. all provide algal habitats.
  • Billabongs & lagoons: Rich microalgal habitats, particularly for desmids.
  • Bogs, marshes & swamps
  • Farm Dams
  • Hot springs
  • Lakes
  • Mud and sand
  • Ponds (ephemeral), puddles, roadside ditches and rock pools
  • Reservoirs
  • Rivers
  • Rock (internal & surface)
  • Saline Lagoons
  • Saline Lakes & Marshes
  • Salt marshes and salt lakes
  • Sewage 
  • Snow
  • Soil
  • Streams
  • Terrestrial plants - tree trunks, branches, shady sides of trees, damp walls, surface of and inside leaves.

Uses of Algae

Uses of Algae as Energy source, Fertilizer, Food and Pollution control

Humans use algae as food, for production of useful compounds, as biofilters to remove nutrients and other pollutants from wastewaters, to assay water quality, as indicators of environmental change, in space technology, and as laboratory research systems. Algae is commercially cultivated for Pharmaceuticals, Nutraceuticals, Cosmetics and Aquaculture purpose.
Fuel source
  • Algae can be used to make Biodiesel (see algaculture), Bioethanol and biobutanol and by some estimates can produce vastly superior amounts of vegetable oil, compared to terrestrial crops grown for the same purpose.
  • Algae can be grown to produce hydrogen. In 1939 a German researcher named Hans Gaffron, while working at the University of Chicago, observed that the algae he was studying,Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (a green-algae), would sometimes switch from the production of oxygen to the production of hydrogen.
  • Algae can be grown to produce biomass, which can be burned to produce heat and electricity.
Food supplement:
1. It is a complete protein with essential amino acids (unlike most plant foods) that are involved in major metabolic processes such as energy and enzyme production.
2. It contains high amounts of simple and complex carbohydrates which provide the body with a source of additional fuel. In particular, the sulfated complex carbohydrates are thought to enhance the immune system’s regulatory response.
3. It contains an extensive fatty acid profile, including Omega 3 and Omega 6. These essential fatty acids also play a key role in the production of energy.
4. It has an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements in naturally-occurring synergistic design.
Stabilizing agent
Chondrus crispus, (probably confused with Mastocarpus stellatus, common name: Irish moss), is also used as “carrageen”. It is an excellent stabiliser in milk products – it reacts with the milk protein caesin, other products include: petfoods, toothpaste, ice-creams and lotions etc.,Alginates in creams and lotions are absorbable through the skin.
Algae are used by humans in many ways. They are used as fertilizers, soil conditioners and are a source of livestock feed. Because many species are aquatic and microscopic, they are cultured in clear tanks or ponds and either harvested or used to treat effluents pumped through the ponds
Role Of Algae in Pollution control
  • Algae are used in Wastewater Treatment facilities, reducing the need for greater amounts of toxic chemicals than are already used.
  • Algae can be used to capture fertilizers in runoff from farms. When subsequently harvested, the enriched algae itself can be used as fertilizer.
  • Algae Bioreactors are used by some powerplants to reduce CO2 emissions. The CO2 can be pumped into a pond, or some kind of tank, on which the algae feed. Alternatively, the Bioreactor can be installed directly on top of a smokestack.
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