Algae. How much knowledge do you have about these living organisms? As one of the earth’s most primitive life forms, algae have been around for centuries – and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So, what’s the big deal about algae, and how does it impact our environment? Read on to get stuck into this fascinating subject.
What Are Algae?
Algae, or alga (singular!), are primitive aquatic plants deriving from a vast group, including many single-celled forms. Like plants, algae have chlorophyll and often appear green. However, unlike plants, algae don’t contain stems, leaves, roots, or vascular tissue; they are non-flowering, making them not very plant-like. Algae grow naturally in freshwater and saltwater. As small organisms, individual organisms can typically only be visible to the naked eye when placed under a microscope.
Different Types of Algae
There are various types of algae. Look at the most popular ones below and discover their uses and benefits.
Chlorophyta, or green algae, occurs in freshwater, saltwater, and moist land. They appear green because of the large amount of chlorophyll present in them. These algae transform light into starch and store it in their cells to consume as energy. Chlorophyta algae have many uses. For example, their antibacterial and antiviral properties make them handy in the medical, food, and cosmetic industries. Furthermore, they can act as air purifiers by taking in carbon dioxide and letting out oxygen, thus making our environment cleaner.
Chrysophyta, known as golden-brown algae, lays the foundation of aquatic food chains. These single-celled algae are consumed by microscopic organisms known as zooplankton, helping wildlife thrive in the long term.
Rhodophyta, or red algae, have been present in freshwater and saltwater environments for a very long time. These algae are a fantastic fiber source, helping regulate blood sugar and enhancing blood circulation in humans. Red algae’s cell walls comprise carbohydrates and cellulose, while each alga is high in vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and magnesium, which assists in bodily health and well-being.
These algae also play an integral part in the food chain and are consumed by other organisms. They contain a complicated internal structure, while photosynthetic forms incorporate a chloroplast. Euglena absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into our surroundings, enabling biodiversity to survive and continue thriving in our ecosystem. Additionally, it consumes other organisms and organic material to break them down. This alga is also rich in nutrients that are used in sustainable feeds, which only require a compact amount of space to grow. This is great for the environment since it reduces the demand for grain, which requires a lot of water and land.
Phaeophyta is also known as brown algae. These algae are known for being a source of nutrition in food sources, although they are also utilized to make food fillers, thickeners, and additives. Industrial manufacturing relies on this alga, which helps our industries and economies thrive worldwide.
Things To Consider
Hopefully, you are now more aware of how impactful algae can be on our environment and social communities. Algae is a necessary foundation of our food chains and release the precious oxygen both we and wildlife need to survive. While this is the case, there are a few things to consider with algae. For example, some alga types can create a negative impact by releasing toxins. Toxins can cause damage to organisms, meaning that algae have both pros and cons.
While this is the case, algae’s advantages undoubtedly outweigh the concerns surrounding it. Algae can help our environment’s well-being thrive in the way it deserves via air purification, amongst other methods.
We can take away many things from this article, including the fact that we should never underestimate the benefits of algae. Algae have many fantastic advantages which aid our environment, such as air purification properties.
Moreover, algae are crucial to our planet. By laying the foundation of food chains in marine environments, these aquatic plants may be more important than you first thought.
However, we should also learn to be wary of the adverse effects of algae. While algae have a multitude of benefits, some species can produce toxins which we need to be aware of.