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For other uses, see Algae (disambiguation) and Alga (disambiguation).

Laurencia, a marine genus of Red Algae from Hawaii.

Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Included groups
• Archaeplastida
○ Chlorophyta (Green algae)
○ Rhodophyta (Red algae)
○ Glaucophyta
• Rhizaria, Excavata
○ Chlorarachniophytes
○ Euglenids
• Chromista, Alveolata
○ Heterokonts
 Bacillariophyceae
 Axodine
 Bolidomonas
 Eustigmatophyceae
 Phaeophyceae (Brown
 Chrysophyceae
(Golden algae)
 Raphidophyceae
 Synurophyceae
 Xanthophyceae
(Yellow-green algae)
○ Cryptophyta
○ Dinoflagellates
○ Haptophyta
Excluded groups
• Cyanobacteria
• Plantae

The lineage of algae according to Thomas Cavalier-Smith. The exact number and placement of
endosymbiotic events is not yet clear, so this diagram can be taken only as a general guide[1][2] It
represents the most parsimonious way of explaining the three types of endosymbiotic origins of
plastids. These types include the endosymbiotic events of cyanobacteria, red algae and green
algae, leading to the hypothesis of the supergroups Archaeplastida, Chromalveolata and Cabozoa
respectively. However, the monophyly of Cabozoa has been refuted and the monophylies of
Archaeplastida and Chromalveolata are currently strongly challenged. Endosymbiotic events are
noted by dotted lines.

Algae ( /ˈældʒiː/ or /ˈælɡiː/; singular alga /ˈælɡə/, Latin for "seaweed") are a large and diverse
group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms,
such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and
"simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many distinct organs found in land
plants. The largest and most complex marine forms are called seaweeds.
Though the prokaryotic cyanobacteria (commonly referred to as blue-green algae) were
traditionally included as "algae" in older textbooks, many modern sources regard this as
outdated[3] as they are now considered to be bacteria.[4] The term algae is now restricted to
eukaryotic organisms.[5] All true algae therefore have a nucleus enclosed within a membrane and
plastids bound in one or more membranes.[3][6] Algae constitute a paraphyletic and polyphyletic
group,[3] as they do not include all the descendants of the last universal ancestor nor do they all
descend from a common algal ancestor, although their plastids seem to have a single origin.[1]
Diatoms are also examples of algae.
Algae are found in the fossil record dating back to approximately 3 billion years in the
Precambrian. They exhibit a wide range of reproductive strategies, from simple, asexual cell
division to complex forms of sexual reproduction.[7]
Algae lack the various structures that characterize land plants, such as phyllids (leaves) and
rhizoids in nonvascular plants, or leaves, roots, and other organs that are found in tracheophytes
(vascular plants). Many are photoautotrophic, although some groups contain members that are
mixotrophic, deriving energy both from photosynthesis and uptake of organic carbon either by
osmotrophy, myzotrophy, or phagotrophy. Some unicellular species rely entirely on external
energy sources and have limited or no photosynthetic apparatus.
Nearly all algae have photosynthetic machinery ultimately derived from the Cyanobacteria, and
so produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, unlike other photosynthetic bacteria such
as purple and green sulfur bacteria. Fossilized filamentous algae from the Vindhya basin have
been dated back to 1.6 to 1.7 billion years ago.[8]

• 1 Etymology and study
• 2 Classification
• 3 Relationship to higher plants
• 4 Morphology
• 5 Symbiotic algae
○ 5.1 Lichens
○ 5.2 Coral reefs
○ 5.3 Sea sponges
• 6 Life-cycle
• 7 Numbers
• 8 Distribution
• 9 Locations
• 10 Uses
○ 10.1 Agar
○ 10.2 Alginates
○ 10.3 Energy source
○ 10.4 Fertilizer
○ 10.5 Nutrition
○ 10.6 Pollution control
○ 10.7 Pigments
○ 10.8 Stabilizing substances
• 11 See also
• 12 Notes
• 13 Bibliography
○ 13.1 General
○ 13.2 Regional
• 14 External links

Etymology and study

Title page of Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin, Historia Fucorum, dated 1768.

The singular alga is the Latin word for a particular seaweed and retains that meaning in English.
The etymology is obscure. Although some speculate that it is related to Latin algēre, "be
cold",[10] there is no known reason to associate seaweed with temperature. A more likely source is
alliga, "binding, entwining."[11] Since Algae has become a biological classification, alga can also
mean one classification under Algae, parallel to a fungus being a species of fungi, a plant being a
species of plant, and so on.
The ancient Greek word for seaweed was φῦκος (fūkos or phykos), which could mean either the
seaweed, probably Red Algae, or a red dye derived from it. The Latinization, fūcus, meant
primarily the cosmetic rouge. The etymology is uncertain, but a strong candidate has long been
some word related to the Biblical ‫( פוך‬pūk), "paint" (if not that word itself), a cosmetic eye-
shadow used by the ancient Egyptians and other inhabitants of the eastern Mediterranean. It
could be any color: black, red, green, blue.[12]
Accordingly the modern study of marine and freshwater algae is called either phycology or
algology. The name Fucus appears in a number of taxa.The singular form is alga.

False-colour Scanning electron micrograph of the unicellular coccolithophore, Gephyrocapsa

While Cyanobacteria have been traditionally included among the Algae, recent works usually
exclude them due to large differences such as the lack of membrane-bound organelles, the
presence of a single circular chromosome, the presence of peptidoglycan in the cell walls, and
ribosomes different in size and content from those of the Eukaryotes.[13][14] Rather than in
chloroplasts, they conduct photosynthesis on specialized infolded cytoplasmic membranes called
thylakoid membranes. Therefore, they differ significantly from the Algae despite occupying
similar ecological niches.
By modern definitions Algae are Eukaryotes and conduct photosynthesis within membrane-
bound organelles called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts contain circular DNA and are similar in
structure to Cyanobacteria, presumably representing reduced cyanobacterial endosymbionts. The
exact nature of the chloroplasts is different among the different lines of Algae, reflecting
different endosymbiotic events. The table below describes the composition of the three major
groups of Algae. Their lineage relationships are shown in the figure in the upper right. Many of
these groups contain some members that are no longer photosynthetic. Some retain plastids, but
not chloroplasts, while others have lost plastids entirely. The singular form is alga.
Phylogeny based on plastid.[15] not nucleocytoplasmic genealogy:








Higher plants


Members Endosymbiont Summary
These Algae have primary
chloroplasts, i.e. the chloroplasts
are surrounded by two
membranes and probably
developed through a single
endosymbiotic event. The
chloroplasts of Red Algae have
• Chlorophyta chlorophylls a and c (often), and
• Rhodophyta Cyanobacteria phycobilins, while those of
• Glaucophyta Green Algae have chloroplasts
with chlorophyll a and b. Higher
plants are pigmented similarly to
Green Algae and probably
developed from them, and thus
Chlorophyta is a sister taxon to
the plants; sometimes they are
grouped as Viridiplantae.
Excavata and • Chlorarachniophytes Green Algae These groups have green
Rhizaria chloroplasts containing
• Euglenids
chlorophylls a and b.[13] Their
chloroplasts are surrounded by
four and three membranes,
respectively, and were probably
retained from ingested Green
Chlorarachniophytes, which
belong to the phylum Cercozoa,
contain a small nucleomorph,
which is a relict of the algae's
Euglenids, which belong to the
phylum Euglenozoa, live
primarily in freshwater and have
chloroplasts with only three
membranes. It has been
suggested that the
endosymbiotic Green Algae
were acquired through
myzocytosis rather than
Chromista and • Heterokonts Red Algae These groups have chloroplasts
Alveolata containing chlorophylls a and c,
• Haptophyta
and phycobilins.The shape
• Cryptomonads varies from plant to plant. they
• Dinoflagellates may be of discoid, plate-like,
reticulate, cup-shaped, spiral or
ribbon shaped. They have one or
more pyrenoids to preserve
protein and starch. The latter
chlorophyll type is not known
from any prokaryotes or primary
chloroplasts, but genetic
similarities with the Red Algae
suggest a relationship there[citation
In the first three of these groups
(Chromista), the chloroplast has
four membranes, retaining a
nucleomorph in Cryptomonads,
and they likely share a common
pigmented ancestor, although
other evidence casts doubt on
whether the Heterokonts,
Haptophyta, and Cryptomonads
are in fact more closely related
to each other than to other
The typical dinoflagellate
chloroplast has three
membranes, but there is
considerable diversity in
chloroplasts within the group,
and it appears there were a
number of endosymbiotic
events.[1] The Apicomplexa, a
group of closely related
parasites, also have plastids
called apicoplasts. Apicoplasts
are not photosynthetic but
appear to have a common origin
with Dinoflagellate chloroplasts.

W.H.Harvey (1811—1866) was the first to divide the Algae into four divisions based on their
pigmentation. This is the first use of a biochemical criterion in plant systematics. Harvey's four
divisions are: Red Algae (Rhodophyta), Brown Algae (Heteromontophyta), Green Algae
(Chlorophyta) and Diatomaceae.[17]
Relationship to higher plants
The first plants on earth evolved from shallow freshwater algae much like Chara some 400
million years ago. These probably had an isomorphic alternation of generations and were
probably filamentous. Fossils of isolated land plant spores suggest land plants may have been
around as long as 475 million years ago.[18][19]
The kelp forest exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A three-dimensional, multicellular
A range of algal morphologies are exhibited, and convergence of features in unrelated groups is
common. The only groups to exhibit three dimensional multicellular thalli are the reds and
browns, and some chlorophytes.[20] Apical growth is constrained to subsets of these groups: the
florideophyte reds, various browns, and the charophytes.[20] The form of charophytes is quite
different to those of reds and browns, because have distinct nodes, separated by internode
'stems'; whorls of branches reminiscent of the horsetails occur at the nodes.[20] Conceptacles are
another polyphyletic trait; they appear in the coralline algae and the Hildenbrandiales, as well as
the browns.[20]
Most of the simpler algae are unicellular flagellates or amoeboids, but colonial and non-motile
forms have developed independently among several of the groups. Some of the more common
organizational levels, more than one of which may occur in the life cycle of a species, are
• Colonial: small, regular groups of motile cells
• Capsoid: individual non-motile cells embedded in mucilage
• Coccoid: individual non-motile cells with cell walls
• Palmelloid: non-motile cells embedded in mucilage
• Filamentous: a string of non-motile cells connected together, sometimes branching
• Parenchymatous: cells forming a thallus with partial differentiation of tissues
In three lines even higher levels of organization have been reached, with full tissue
differentiation. These are the brown algae,[21]—some of which may reach 50 m in length (kelps)
—the red algae,[23] and the green algae.[24] The most complex forms are found among the green
algae (see Charales and Charophyta), in a lineage that eventually led to the higher land plants.
The point where these non-algal plants begin and algae stop is usually taken to be the presence of
reproductive organs with protective cell layers, a characteristic not found in the other alga
Symbiotic algae
Some species of algae form symbiotic relationships with other organisms. In these symbioses,
the algae supply photosynthates (organic substances) to the host organism providing protection
to the algal cells. The host organism derives some or all of its energy requirements from the
algae. Examples are as follows.
Main article: Lichens

Rock lichens in Ireland.

Lichens are defined by the International Association for Lichenology to be "an association of a
fungus and a photosynthetic symbiont resulting in a stable vegetative body having a specific
structure."[25] The fungi, or mycobionts, are from the Ascomycota with a few from the
Basidiomycota. They are not found alone in nature but when they began to associate is not
known.[26] One mycobiont associates with the same phycobiont species, rarely two, from the
Green Algae, except that alternatively the mycobiont may associate with the same species of
Cyanobacteria (hence "photobiont" is the more accurate term). A photobiont may be associated
with many specific mycobionts or live independently; accordingly, lichens are named and
classified as fungal species.[27] The association is termed a morphogenesis because the lichen has
a form and capabilities not possessed by the symbiont species alone (they can be experimentally
isolated). It is possible that the photobiont triggers otherwise latent genes in the mycobiont.[28]
Coral reefs
Main articles: Coral, Coral reef, and Zooxanthella
Floridian coral reef
Coral reefs are accumulated from the calcareous exoskeletons of marine invertebrates of the
Scleractinia order; i.e., the Stony Corals. As animals they metabolize sugar and oxygen to obtain
energy for their cell-building processes, including secretion of the exoskeleton, with water and
carbon dioxide as byproducts. As the reef is the result of a favorable equilibrium between
construction by the corals and destruction by marine erosion, the rate at which metabolism can
proceed determines the growth or deterioration of the reef.
Algae of the Dinoflagellate phylum are often endosymbionts in the cells of marine invertebrates,
where they accelerate host-cell metabolism by generating immediately available sugar and
oxygen through photosynthesis using incident light and the carbon dioxide produced in the host.
Endosymbiont algae in the Stony Corals are described by the term zooxanthellae, with the host
Stony Corals called on that account hermatypic corals, which although not a taxon are not in
healthy condition without their endosymbionts. Zooxanthellae belong almost entirely to the
genus Symbiodinium.[29] The loss of Symbiodinium from the host is known as coral bleaching, a
condition which unless corrected leads to the deterioration and loss of the reef.
Sea sponges
Main article: Sea sponge
Green Algae live close to the surface of some sponges, for example, breadcrumb sponge
(Halichondria panicea). The alga is thus protected from predators; the sponge is provided with
oxygen and sugars which can account for 50 to 80% of sponge growth in some species.[30]
Rhodophyta, Chlorophyta and Heterokontophyta, the three main algal Phyla, have life-cycles
which show tremendous variation with considerable complexity. In general there is an asexual
phase where the seaweed's cells are diploid, a sexual phase where the cells are haploid followed
by fusion of the male and female gametes. Asexual reproduction is advantageous in that it
permits efficient population increases, but less variation is possible. Sexual reproduction allows
more variation, but is more costly. Often there is no strict alternation between the sporophyte and
also because there is often an asexual phase, which could include the fragmentation of the
For more details on this topic, see Conceptacle.
Algae on coastal rocks at Shihtiping in Taiwan
The Algal Collection of the U.S. National Herbarium (located in the National Museum of
Natural History) consists of approximately 320,500 dried specimens, which, although not
exhaustive (no exhaustive collection exists), gives an idea of the order of magnitude of the
number of algal species (that number remains unknown).[33] Estimates vary widely. For example,
according to one standard textbook,[34] in the British Isles the UK Biodiversity Steering Group
Report estimated there to be 20000 algal species in the UK. Another checklist reports only about
5000 species. Regarding the difference of about 15000 species, the text concludes: "It will
require many detailed field surveys before it is possible to provide a reliable estimate of the total
number of species ...."
Regional and group estimates have been made as well: 5000—5500 species of Red Algae
worldwide, "some 1300 in Australian Seas,"[35] 400 seaweed species for the western coastline of
South Africa,[36] 669 marine species from California (U.S.A.),[37] 642 in the check-list of Britain
and Ireland,[38] and so on, but lacking any scientific basis or reliable sources, these numbers have
no more credibility than the British ones mentioned above. Most estimates also omit the
microscopic Algae, such as the phytoplankta, entirely.
The topic of distribution of algal species has been fairly well studied since the founding of
phytogeography in the mid-19th century AD.[39] Algae spread mainly by the dispersal of spores
analogously to the dispersal of Plantae by seeds and spores. Spores are everywhere in all parts of
the Earth: the waters fresh and marine, the atmosphere, free-floating and in precipitation or
mixed with dust, the humus and in other organisms, such as humans. Whether a spore is to grow
into an organism depends on the combination of the species and the environmental conditions of
where the spore lands.
The spores of fresh-water Algae are dispersed mainly by running water and wind, as well as by
living carriers.[40] The bodies of water into which they are transported are chemically selective.
Marine spores are spread by currents. Ocean water is temperature selective, resulting in
phytogeographic zones, regions and provinces.[41]
To some degree the distribution of Algae is subject to floristic discontinuities caused by
geographical features, such as Antarctica, long distances of ocean or general land masses. It is
therefore possible to identify species occurring by locality, such as "Pacific Algae" or "North Sea
Algae". When they occur out of their localities, it is usually possible to hypothesize a transport
mechanism, such as the hulls of ships. For example, Ulva reticulata and Ulva fasciata travelled
from the mainland to Hawaii in this manner.
Mapping is possible for select species only: "there are many valid examples of confined
distribution patterns."[42] For example, Clathromorphum is an arctic genus and is not mapped far
south of there.[43] On the other hand, scientists regard the overall data as insufficient due to the
"difficulties of undertaking such studies."[44]

Phytoplankton, Lake Chuzenji

Algae are prominent in bodies of water, common in terrestrial environments and are found in
unusual environments, such as on snow and on ice. Seaweeds grow mostly in shallow marine
waters, under 100 metres (330 ft); however some have been recorded to a depth of 360 metres
(1,180 ft).[45]
The various sorts of algae play significant roles in aquatic ecology. Microscopic forms that live
suspended in the water column (phytoplankton) provide the food base for most marine food
chains. In very high densities (algal blooms) these algae may discolor the water and outcompete,
poison, or asphyxiate other life forms.
Algae are variously sensitive to different factors, which has made them useful as biological
indicators in the Ballantine Scale and its modification.

Harvesting Algae
Agar, a gelatinous substance derived from red algae, has a number of commercial uses.[46]
Between 100,000 and 170,000 wet tons of Macrocystis are harvested annually in California for
alginate extraction and abalone feed.[47][48]
Energy source
Main articles: Algae fuel, Biological hydrogen production, Biohydrogen, Biodiesel, Ethanol fuel,
Butanol fuel, and Vegetable fats and oils
To be competitive and independent from fluctuating support from (local) policy on the long run,
biofuels should equal or beat the cost level of fossil fuels. Here, algae based fuels hold great
promise, directly related to the potential to produce more biomass per unit area in a year than any
other form of biomass. The break-even point for algae-based biofuels should be within reach in
about ten to fifteen years.[49]

Seaweed is used as a fertilizer.

For more details on this topic, see Seaweed fertiliser.
For centuries seaweed has been used as a fertilizer; George Owen of Henllys writing in the 16th
century referring to drift weed in South Wales:[50]
This kind of ore they often gather and lay on great heapes, where it heteth and rotteth, and will
have a strong and loathsome smell; when being so rotten they cast on the land, as they do their
muck, and thereof springeth good corn, especially barley ... After spring-tydes or great rigs of the
sea, they fetch it in sacks on horse backes, and carie the same three, four, or five miles, and cast
it on the lande, which doth very much better the ground for corn and grass.
Today Algae are used by humans in many ways; for example, as fertilizers, soil conditioners and
livestock feed.[51] Aquatic and microscopic species are cultured in clear tanks or ponds and are
either harvested or used to treat effluents pumped through the ponds. Algaculture on a large scale
is an important type of aquaculture in some places. Maerl is commonly used as a soil
Seaweed gardens on Inisheer.
See also: Edible seaweed
Naturally growing seaweeds are an important source of food, especially in Asia. They provide
many vitamins including: A, B1, B2, B6, niacin and C, and are rich in iodine, potassium, iron,
magnesium and calcium.[52] In addition commercially cultivated microalgae, including both
Algae and Cyanobacteria, are marketed as nutritional supplements, such as Spirulina,[53]
Chlorella and the Vitamin-C supplement, Dunaliella, high in beta-carotene.
Algae are national foods of many nations: China consumes more than 70 species, including fat
choy, a cyanobacterium considered a vegetable; Japan, over 20 species;[54] Ireland, dulse; Chile,
cochayuyo.[55] Laver is used to make "laver bread" in Wales where it is known as bara lawr; in
Korea, gim; in Japan, nori and aonori. It is also used along the west coast of North America from
California to British Columbia, in Hawaii and by the Māori of New Zealand. Sea lettuce and
badderlocks are a salad ingredient in Scotland, Ireland, Greenland and Iceland.

Dulse, a food.
The oils from some Algae have high levels of unsaturated fatty acids. For example,
Parietochloris incisa is very high in arachidonic acid, where it reaches up to 47% of the
triglyceride pool.[56] Some varieties of Algae favored by vegetarianism and veganism contain the
long-chain, essential omega-3 fatty acids, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic
acid (EPA), in addition to vitamin B12.[citation needed] The vitamin B12 in algae is not biologically
active. Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids, but the original source is algae (microalgae in
particular), which are eaten by marine life such as copepods and are passed up the food chain.[57]
Algae has emerged in recent years as a popular source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegetarians
who cannot get long-chain EPA and DHA from other vegetarian sources such as flaxseed oil,
which only contains the short-chain Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA).
Pollution control
• Sewage can be treated with algae, 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.
• Aquariums and ponds can be filtered using algae, which absorb nutrients from the water
in a device called an Algae scrubber, also known as an "ATS".[58][59][60][61]
Agricultural Research Service scientists found that 60-90% of nitrogen runoff and 70-100% of
phosphorus runoff can be captured from manure effluents using an algal turf scrubber (ATS).
Scientists developed the ATS, which are shallow, 100-foot raceways of nylon netting where
algae colonies can form, and studied its efficacy for three years. They found that algae can
readily be used to reduce the nutrient runoff from agricultural fields and increase the quality of
water flowing into rivers, streams, and oceans. The enriched algae itself also can be used as a
fertilizer. Researchers collected and dried the nutrient-rich algae from the ATS and studied its
potential as an organic fertilizer. They found that cucumber and corn seedlings grew just as well
using ATS organic fertilizer as they did with commercial fertilizers.[62]
The natural pigments produced by algae can be used as an alternative to chemical dyes and
coloring agents.[63]
Stabilizing substances
Carrageenan, from the red alga Chondrus crispus, is used as a stabiliser in milk products.
Main articles: Carrageenan and Chondrus crispus
See also
• Algaculture
• AlgaeBase
• AlgaePARC
• Anatoxin
• Eutrophication
• Iron fertilization
• Microalgae
• Microbiofuels
• Microphyte
• Nutrition
• Photobioreactor
• Phytoplankton
• Plant
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Cultural and Historical Inquiry. CRC Press. pp. 179–190. ISBN 0-936923-29-6.
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California: Sea Challengers Publications. ISBN 0-930118-29-4.
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fatty acid composition of the green oleaginous alga Parietochloris incisa, the richest plant
source of arachidonic acid.". Phytochemistry 60 (5): 497–503. doi:10.1016/S0031-
9422(02)00100-0. PMID 12052516.
57. ^ Allison Aubrey (Morning Edition, November 1, 2007). "Getting Brain Food Straight
from the Source". National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?
58. ^ Nutrient Cycling In The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. Proceedings of the 6th
International Coral Reef Symposium, Australia, 1988, Vol. 2
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Phycology, June 2008
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May 7, 2010. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/may10/algae0510.htm.
63. ^ Arad, Shoshana; Spharim, Ishai (1998). "Production of Valuable Products from
Microalgae: An Emerging Agroindustry". In Altman, Arie. Agricultural Biotechnology.
Books in Soils, Plants, and the Environment. 61. CRC Press. p. 638. ISBN 978-0-8247-
• Chapman, V.J. (1950). Seaweeds and their Uses. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-
• Lembi, C.A.; Waaland, J.R. (1988). Algae and Human Affairs. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-32115-8.
• Round, F E (1981). The Ecology of Algae. London: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-
• Mumford, T F; Miura, A (1988). "Porphyra as food: cultivation and economic". In
Lembi, C A; Waaland, J R. Algae and Human Affairs. Cambridge University Press.
pp. 87–117. ISBN 0-521-32115-8. .
Britain and Ireland
• Brodie, Juliet; Burrows, Elsie M; Chamberlain, Yvonne M.; Christensen, Tyge; Dixon,
Peter Stanley; Fletcher, R.L.; Hommersand, Max H; Irvine, Linda M et al. (1977–2003).
Seaweeds of the British Isles: A Collaborative Project of the British Phycological Society
and the British Museum (Natural History). London, Andover: British Museum (Natural
History), HMSO, Intercept. ISBN 9780565007812 9780113100453, 9780113100163,
9781898298878, 9780565009809, 0565009818, 0565009923, 0565008714.
• Cullinane, John P (1973). Phycology of the South Coast of Ireland. Cork: Cork
University Press.
• Hardy, F G; Aspinall, R J (1988). An Atlas of the Seaweeds of Northumberland and
Durham. The Hancock Museum, University Newcastle upon Tyne: Northumberland
Biological Records Centre. ISBN 978-0-9509680-5-6.
• Hardy, F G; Guiry, Michael D; Arnold, Henry R (2006). A Check-list and Atlas of the
Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland (Revised ed.). London: British Phycological Society.
ISBN 3-906166-35-X 9783906166353.
• John, D M; Whitton, B A; Brook, J A (2002). The Freshwater Algal Flora of the British
Isles. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-77051-3.
• Knight, Margery; Parke, Mary W (1931). Manx Algae: An Algal Survey of the South End
of the Isle of Man. Liverpool Marine Biology Committee (LMBC) Memoirs on Typical
British Marine Plants & Animals. XXX. Liverpool: University Press.
• Morton, Osborne (1994). Marine Algae of Northern Ireland. Belfast: Ulster Museum.
ISBN 0900761288 9780900761287.
• Morton, Osborne (1 December 2003). "The Marine Macroalgae of County Donegal,
Ireland". Bulletin of the Irish Biogeographical Society 27: 3–164.
• Huisman, J M (2000). Marine Plants of Australia. University of Western Australian
(UWA) Press. ISBN 1-876268-33-6.
New Zealand
• Chapman, Valentine Jackson; Lindauer, VW; Aiken, M; Dromgoole, FI (1900, 1956,
1961, 1969, 1970). The Marine algae of New Zealand. London; Lehre, Germany:
Linnaean Society of London; Cramer.
• Cabioc'h, Jacqueline; Floc'h, Jean-Yves; Le Toquin, Alain; Boudouresque, Charles-
François; Meinesz, Alexandre; Verlaque, Marc (1992) (in French). Guide des algues des
mers d'Europe: Manche/Atlantique-Méditerranée. Lausanne, Suisse: Delachaux et
Niestlé. ISBN 2-603-00848-X, 9782603008485.
• Gayral, Paulette (1966) (in French). Les Algues de côtes françaises (manche et
atlantique), notions fondamentales sur l'écologie, la biologie et la systématique des
algues marines. Paris: Doin, Deren et Cie.
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John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-92947-6.
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gastronomía, industria. Vigo: Edicións Xerais de Galicia. ISBN 84-8302-263-X.
• Otero, J. (2002) (in Galician). Guía das macroalgas de Galicia. A Coruña: Baía Edicións.
ISBN 84-89803-22-6.
• Bárbara, I.; Cremades, J. (1993) (in Spanish). Guía de las algas del litoral gallego. A
Coruña: Concello da Coruña - Casa das Ciencias.
• Kjellman, Frans Reinhold (1883). The algae of the Arctic Sea: a survey of the species,
together with an exposition of the general characters and the development of the flora.
20. Stockholm: Kungl. Svenska vetenskapsakademiens handlingar. pp. 1–350.
• Lund, Søren Jensen (1959). The Marine Algae of East Greenland. Kövenhavn: C.A.
Reitzel. ISBN 9584734.
Faroe Islands
• Børgesen, Frederik (1903, 1970 reprint). "Marine Algae". In Warming, Eugene. Botany
of the Faröes Based Upon Danish Investigations. Part II. Det nordiske Forlag. pp. 339–
532. .
Canary Islands
• Børgesen, Frederik (1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1936). Marine Algae from the
Canary Islands. København: Bianco Lunos.
• Gayral, Paulette (1958) (in French). Algues de la côte atlantique marocaine. Casablanca:
Rabat [Société des sciences naturelles et physiques du Maroc].
South Africa
• Stegenga, H.; Bolton, J.J.; Anderson, R.J. (1997). Seaweeds of the South African West
Coast. Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape Town. ISBN 0-7992-1793-X.
North America
• Abbott, I.A.; Hollenberg, G.J. (1976). Marine Algae of California. California: Stanford
University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0867-3.
• Greeson, Phillip E. (1982). An annotated key to the identification of commonly occurring
and dominant genera of Algae observed in the Phytoplankton of the United States.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey.
http://www.archive.org/details/annotatedkeytoid00gree. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
• Taylor, William Randolph (1937, 1957, 1962, 1969). Marine Algae of the Northeastern
Coast of North America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-04904-
• Wehr, J D; Sheath, R G (2003). Freshwater Algae of North America: Ecology and
Classification. USA: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-741550-5.
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Algae

• Guiry, Michael and Wendy. "AlgaeBase". http://www.algaebase.org. - a database of all

algal names including images, nomenclature, taxonomy, distribution, bibliography, uses,
• Algae - Cell Centered Database
• "Algae Research". National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany. 2008.
http://botany.si.edu/projects/algae/. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
• Anderson, Don; Bruce Keafer; Judy Kleindinst; Katie Shaughnessy; Katherine Joyce;
Danielle Fino; Adam Shepherd (2007). "Harmful Algae". U.S. National Office for
Harmful Algal Blooms. http://www.whoi.edu/redtide/page.do?pid=14779. Retrieved
• "Australian Freshwater Algae (AFA)". Department of Environment and Climate Change
NSW Botanic Gardens Trust.
Retrieved 2008-12-19.
• "Monterey Bay Flora". Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). 1996–
2008. http://www.mbari.org/staff/conn/botany/flora/mflora.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
• Silva, Paul (1997–2004). "Index Nominum Algarum (INA)". Berkeley: University
Herbarium, University of California. http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/INA.html. Retrieved
• Algae: Protists with Chloroplasts
• "Research on microalgae". Wageningen UR. 2009. http://www.algae.wur.nl/uk/.
Retrieved 2009-05-18.

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Algae constitute an important group of aquatic resources, as many of them are useful to man.
Many phycologists are trying to find out the food values of algae, their importance in industries,
their other uses and disuses. The importance of the role played by algae in world is becoming
more appreciated each day because of the increased realization that many of them are extremely
valuable to man. The importance of algae may be discussed under two separate headings.
A. Beneficial aspects
1. Algae as food
> Algae are used as most popular food items in many parts of the world, especially in Japan,
England, Denmark, Ireland and America.
• Porphyra tenera, a red alga is very popular and is eaten throughout Japan. Other species of
Porphyra are eaten in England and California. Porphyra is very rich in protein, carbohydrates
and also rich in vitamins.
• Dried Chondrus crispus is used in puddings and jellies in Ireland.
• Kombu, a popular vegetable of Japan is prepared from Laminaria. In fact, Japanese consume
largest number of algae as food. They cultivate 4000-5000 metric tons of dry weight of twenty
different algae in 1,55,000 acres of area.
• Chlorella, a green alga has highest percentage of protein or even more than in other vegetable
or egg. It is said to contain all vitamins from A to D.
• Even the other green algae like Ulva (sea lettuce), Caulerpa, Codium and Enteromorpha are
eaten in China and Japan.
• The colloidal gel algin obtained from Gracilaria, Gelidium and Macrocystis is used in the
preparation of ice-creams and jellies in America.
• Spirulina, a blue green alga has highest protein content. It also has vitamin Bv B2, E, Niacin,
Inositol, rich calcium, potassium, phosphorus content. It is directly used as a food additive to
supplement the nutritional values.
> Algae as fodder and food of fishes : Many sea weeds, including Sargassum, Laminaria and
Fucus are used as fodder to feed cattle in Scotland. Macrocystis is also eaten by chicken and
cattle in California. Many fresh water and marine fishes and other animals depend on algae for
their food. Lyngbya, Anabaena and diatoms are the microscopic algae used by small fishes and
other animals. In some countries Laminaria and Macrocystis are used as fodder. A red alga,
Fthodymenia (also called sheep's weed) is also used as fodder.
2. Algae in industries
Algae are extensively used in industries to produce different pharmaceuticals and other important
organic compounds.
> Red algae like Gracilaria and Gelidium, commonly called agarophytes are used for the
extraction of agar. It is widely used to solidify culture media in microbiological studies. It is also
used as stabilizer or thickner in the preparation of jellies, puddings etc.
> Carragunine is produced commercially from Chondrus. It is used as a clearing agent in liquor
and as emulsifier in chocolates, ice creams, tooth pastes etc. Mucilage from Chondrus is used in
the manufacture of felt hats as stiffening agent. It has the properties of agar and therefore used as
an ingredient of cosmetics, shaving creams, shoe polish and shampoos.
> Algin or alginic acid is extracted by boiling brown algae in washing soda solution. It is used
as an emulsifier in ice creams, toothpastes, cosmetics, ointments etc. It is also used in making
flame-proof plastics, security glass, rollers of type-writers, artificial silk (sea weed rayon) and
surgical threads.
> The diatomaceous earth formed due to the accumulation of cell walls of diatoms at the
bottom of sea and ocean is very useful in industry. The diatomaceous earth powder is extensively
used in sugar refineries, current industry, soap manufacturing, in the manufacture of dynamite,
rubber and blotting paper etc. It is also used in insulation of boilers, blast furnaces and at various
other places where a very high temperature (1000°C) is required.
3. Algae in nitrogen fixation
Different blue green algae have the capacity of fixing atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogeneous
salts eg. Nostoc puntiformae, Cylindrospermum majus, Anabaena variabilis etc. These have been
immensely used as biofertilizer in certain parts of Tamilnadu and Rajasthan to increase the
fertility of soil in paddy fields.
4. Algae in antibiotics and medicines
> An antibiotic called Chlorellin is extracted from Chlorella has marked effects against both
Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The brown algae Laminaria and Ascophyllum have
antibiotic properties. Even Cladophora and Polysiphonia are reported to have the antibiotic
> The algae like, Chara and Nitella have larvicidal property and it has been reported that their
presence in a pond causes death of mosquito larvae.
> Brown algae with its high iodine content used in various goiter medicines, either mixed or
directly as a powder. Palcato, a medicine from Sargassum and Laminaria is used to check goiter
by South Americans. Laminarin stipes are used as surgical tool in the opening of wound.
> The extract of Corailina, Codium, Durvillea is used for the treatment of vermious diseases in
human beings. Gelidium is used for the treatment of stomach disorder and heat induced illness.
Several kinds of pharmaceutical products such as pills, ointments and laxatives are prepared
from agar.
5. Algae in land reclamation
Different blue algae are used for the land reclamation. Alga such as Nostoc, Anabaena and
Scytonema grow as a thick layer on the barren alkaline soil and convert that into fertile soil by
reducing its pH level and increasing the water holding capacity.
B. Harmful aspects
> Death of fishes : Growth of certain algae in water results in the release of certain toxic
chemicals. These chemicals kill the fishes, eg. Microcystis, Aphanizomenon, Gymnociinium
release enough toxin to kill fishes. Algae may block.the gills of fish leading to their death.
> Death of animals : The blue green algae such as Microcystis, Aphanizomenon and
Gloeotricha produce exotoxin and endotoxin causing death of animals which consume them.
There are reports of death of horses, cattle, sheep etc. by consuming such polluted water. The
commonly kown toxic algae are Anabaena flos-aquae, A. circinaiis, Aphanizomenon fios-aquae,
Microcystis aeruginosa etc.
> Death of human beings : There are reports of human death as a result of indirect consumption
of dinoflagellates through fishes which have been eaten by them. Gonyaulax and other
dinoflagellates when eaten with shell fish are known to cause several types of diseases. There are
reports of paralysis, liver problem, respiratory failure or even death with 2 to 12 hours after
eating fish and shell fish with Gonyaulax catanella, Gymnodinium brewis and G. flavum.
> Spoilage of water : Several blue green algae and green algae grown in abundance on the
surface of water produce algal blooms or water bloom. It results in water pollution instead of
aerating water. They impart a bad odour to water and make it unfit for consumption, swimming
and recreation. They reduce the oxygen content of water and thus Biological Oxygen Demand
(B.O.D.) cannot be met.
Some algae (eg. Spirogyra, Oscillatoria and Diatoms) grown in muncipal water reservoirs and
water pipes, clog the water filters and spoil the taste of water. Some blue green algae even
change the colour, odour and taste of water.
> Algae causing damage : Some algae grown on buildings and historical monuments spoil
plaster and brick work. Different marine algae which grow on metal and wood work of ships,
boat etc., cause serious damage by corroding and fouling.
> Parasitic algae : Some algae are parasitic and causes diseases in plants and human beings -
• Cephaleuros virescens (a filamentous green alga) is parasitic and cause rust disease in tea and
coffee plants.
• Chlorella and Lyngbya may cause certain skin diseases in human beings who take bath in water
containing these algae.

Beneficial Role
(i) Algae as Food. Many species of marine algae are rich in vitamins A and E, and some in C and
D. Some are rich in inorganic substances (e.g., iodine). These properties have been taken
advantage of by people of some countries, particularly China and ■ Japan, who have made some
algae as a part of their regular diet. Laminaria, and Poi-phyra have been used to supplement rice.
Kombit, an important element.in the diet of Japanese, is derived from nine or ten species of
Laminaria. At least five to six types of sea-weeds are employed in the preparation of a Japanese-
meal. The absence of goitre in Japan is ascribed to iodine conent of their diet. Chlorella, the little
green freshwater alga, has a high vitamin B content, and has been powdered and used with tea.
Box 9 2
Extendmg me CoiceDt
Rhaclymema palmata is called sheep's weed Sheep in Norway graze upon this red alga, at
low tido Jt is also called 'lush dulse', for it was the stap'e fooa cf Irish people when their
country was struck ov great famine Ever, todav youngsters in Ireland and Siotlard chow on
this Insn duise
(iv) Algae in Industry. Three industries, namely, the kelp industry, the algin industry and the agar
industry, make use of many marine algae as their raw material to make a number of products.
(a) 'Kelp-ash' is derived from burning sea weeds such as Laminaria, Saccorhiza, Fucus and
others. It was formerly used in soap, glass and alum industries.
(b) Algin, a derivative of some brown algae, has found its use in paint, pigment, rubber-
processing, pharmaceutical and automobile polish industries. The production of algin by
industries consumes so much of algae that it has now become a threat to the algal population,
(c) Agar is also called 'Japanese isinglass'. It is a product of Gelidium corneum and other red
algae. Apart from its use in laboratories for culturing bacteria (the agar-agar medium), it finds its
use in the food industry in the manufacture of bread, pastry, ice cream, jelly, cheese, dairy
products and in fish and meat canning.
(d) Carragheenin (or carragheen or carra-geenan) is the dried mucilage of the red alga
Chondrus crispus and Gignrtina mmnillosa. The product is chemically similar to agar.
(v) Algae as Fertilizers. Marine algae like Sargassum, Padina, Tubinaria and Hydrocalthrus,
because of their water-holding capacity and high organic content, have been used as fertilizers.
They decompose slowly but can add to the humus content of the soil.
(vi) Antibiotics. Extracts of a number of algae exhibit antibiotic properties. The antibiotic
chlorellin, obtained from Chlorella inhibits the growth of intestinal bacteria. Extracts of
Microcystis are active against several bacterial species such as Clostridium and Staphylococcus.
(vii) Sewage Treatment. Sewage treatment makes use of algae such as Anacystis, Chlamydo-
monas, Chlorella, Euglena, Oscillatoria and Scene-desmus. They break down organic matter in
the sewage and purify it.
(viii) Biological Control. Extracts from blue green algae such as Anabaena, have been found to
have larvicidal properties, i.e., they kill mosquito larvae in ponds, pools and rice fields.
Harmful Role
(i) Algae in Water Supplies. We have already seen how cyanobacteria can contribute to algal
bloom (or water bloom). The blooms are usually caused by blue-green algae. This can promote
the growth of aerobic bacteria, which in turn, deplete oxygen supply, leading to the death of
fishes. Blooms of algae affect all types of waters : drinking, fishing, and swimming.
(ii) Damage to Water Reservoirs. Luxuriant growth of algae or their death gives an unpleasant
fishy smell to drinking water stored in reservoirs. The algae also corrode metallic'parts and block
the filtration machinery.
(iii) Algae and Disease. Parasitic algae like Cephaleuros can attack cultivated plants like tea,
coffee, citrus and pepper. The red rust of tea is caused by C. virescens.
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