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A variety of algae growing on the sea bed in shallow waters

Algae (/ˈæli, ˈælɡi/; singular alga /ˈælɡə/) is an informal term for a large, diverse group of photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms that are not necessarily closely related, and is thus polyphyletic. Included organisms range from unicellular microalgae genera, such as Chlorella and the diatoms, to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelp, a large brown alga which may grow up to 50 m in length. Most are aquatic and autotrophic and lack many of the distinct cell and tissue types, such as stomata, xylem, and phloem, which are found in land plants. The largest and most complex marine algae are called seaweeds, while the most complex freshwater forms are the Charophyta, a division of green algae which includes, for example, Spirogyra and the stoneworts.

No definition of algae is generally accepted. One definition is that algae "have chlorophyll as their primary photosynthetic pigment and lack a sterile covering of cells around their reproductive cells". Although cyanobacteria are often referred to as "blue-green algae", most authorities exclude all prokaryotes from the definition of algae.

Algae constitute a polyphyletic group since they do not include a common ancestor, and although their plastids seem to have a single origin, from cyanobacteria, they were acquired in different ways. Green algae are examples of algae that have primary chloroplasts derived from endosymbiotic cyanobacteria. Diatoms and brown algae are examples of algae with secondary chloroplasts derived from an endosymbiotic red alga. Read more...

Selected general article

Modern algae scrubber designs use upflowing air bubbles to generate turbulence; when illumination is added, algae grows inside the unit and consumes nutrients.

An algae scrubber is a water filtering device (not to be confused with a scrubber pad used to clean glass) which uses light to grow algae; in this process, undesirable chemicals are removed from the water. Algae scrubbers allow saltwater, freshwater and pond hobbyists to operate their tanks using natural filtration in the form of primary production, much like oceans and lakes. Read more...

Selected algae type

Sea ice algae community
Ice algae are any of the various types of algal communities found in annual and multi-year sea or terrestrial ice. On sea ice in the polar oceans, ice algae communities play an important role in primary production. The timing of blooms of the algae is especially important for supporting higher trophic levels at times of the year when light is low and ice cover still exists. Sea ice algal communities are mostly concentrated in the bottom layer of the ice, but can also occur in brine channels within the ice, in melt ponds, and on the surface.

Because terrestrial ice algae occur in freshwater systems, the species composition differs greatly from that of sea ice algae. These communities are significant in that they often change the color of glaciers and ice sheets, impacting the reflectivity of the ice itself. Read more...

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