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Algae are one of the oldest organisms on our planet. Traditionally classified as plants (although the most modern classifications group them in other ways), they are autotrophic, unicellular or multicellular organisms, capable of obtaining their energy thanks to their ability to photosynthesize. The morphological variety of algae is as superior or more than that of plants, and it is that among its more than 30,000 known species, there are all imaginable sizes: from the aforementioned single-celled algae to giant algae that exceed 100 meters.
In this Green Ecologist article we are going to see what is the classification of algae. If you want to learn more about these ancient aquatic inhabitants (although not always) of our planet, join us.
Characteristics of algae
Before detailing the classification of algae, we want to indicate their traits to get to know them better. Thus, between the main characteristics of algae we find the following:
- Algae belong to the Protista kingdom.
- These are autotrophic organisms with the capacity to carry out photosynthesis that require a very humid or aquatic environment.
- Just as plants are the primary producers on land, algae are the primary producers underwater.
- It is common for them to form underwater meadows and both marine and freshwater phytoplankton are part of them. It can also grow on rocks, logs or other surfaces with sufficient humidity.
- Phytoplankton is essential for life on earth: they produce 30% to 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere.
- Although most algae are microscopic, there are also a large number of macroscopic species.
Expand this information with this other Green Ecologist article about Similarities and differences between plants and algae.
Types of algae - Classification
The easiest and fastest way to make a classification of algae without errors is by creating two large groups: microalgae or unicellular algae or macroalgae or multicellular algae. It is not advisable to use a classification of algae according to their color since there are species made up of several types of algae of different colors.
Types of algae: macroalgae
- Chlorophyta or green algae: All the algae belonging to this group contain chlorophyll of type A and B, and store reserve substances such as starch. They are known as green algae and have both unicellular and multicellular species. Similarly, they share freshwater habitats and marine habitats, thanks to their good adaptability.
- Rodophyta or red algae: the algae that make up this group are also known as red algae or rhinophytes. You are, they also perform photosynthetic functions and contain chlorophyll of type A and D, in addition to other accessory pigments such as phycobilins and carotenoids. In this group there are more than 6,000 species, almost all of the marine type and whose main characteristic is that they can be found at more than 130 meters of depth. Rhodophytes are used as food, and many of their varieties are also used to make agar - a natural gelatin.
- Phaeophyta or brown algae: Also known as brown algae, they are typical of marine ecosystems, with rocky coasts being preferred. They are generally presented as floating shapes, totally free. They present chlorophyll of type A and C, as well as are characterized by containing fucoxanthin.
Types of algae: microalgae
- Chrysophyceae or golden algae: They are mostly photoautotrophic and usually live in freshwater lakes and lagoons, although they also have marine species. They generally appear as flagellate unicellular forms that form colonies.
- Xanthophyta or yellowish-green algae: The more than 600 species of yellowish-green algae are usually found in fresh water, especially in swamps, forming small colonies. Similarly, most of the algae belonging to this group have two flagella that appear at both ends of the cell.
- Dinophyta: this type of algae have two flagella located between two groove crevices between plates. Of these, almost half are photosynthetic or mixotrophic, but many others live through a symbiotic relationship, it has already been with fungi and even other types of algae. They are also known to pollute waters under certain weather conditions.
- Bacillariophyta or diatoms: They mostly grow in fresh and salt water and even on damp soil. In the sea they are usually located in regions with low temperatures, swimming freely. In fact, this species of algae, together with dinoflagellates or dinophyta, are the main constituents of phytoplankton. A curious fact is that planktonic diatoms are responsible for almost a quarter of the photosynthesis carried out on our planet.
What algae are edible - names
These are some examples of edible algae:
- Nori seaweed
- Sea spaghetti
If you want to read more articles similar to Classification of algae, we recommend that you enter our Biology category.