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What is Phycology?

Definition of Phycology/ What is Phycology?

  • In some places, phycology is also called algology. It is the study of algae, which are part of the plant kingdom.
  • Even though algae don’t have stems, roots, or leaves like most plants on land, they play an important role as the primary photosynthetic plants in freshwater and as a food source for many aquatic organisms.
  • Because of this, it’s becoming more and more important to learn about these organisms and how they fit into their ecosystems.
  • This has also made it possible to find out how algae affects life in general. This is especially true because, other than water, algae can be found in almost all environments around the world.
  • The Greek word “phykos,” which means seaweed, is where the word “phycology” comes from.
  • Algae gave rise to cryptogamic plants, which then gave rise to flowering plants (prokaryotic algae).

The history of phycology as a field of study can be broken down into four main periods.

  • Phase 1: Theophrastus and Pedanius Dioscorides’ Greek writings – This time period ended in the 1800s.
  • Phase 2: Western sciences, 1800–1880
  • Phase 3: Beginning of 1950
  • This is the modern part of phycology, which began in the 1950s.

Classification of Phycology 

Algae are hard to put into groups, and the way they are put into groups has changed many times over the years. Different parts of the organisms have also been used to come up with different systems.

In this section, we’ll show how algae can be divided into four main groups. These things are:

  1. Prokaryotic algae
  2. Eukaryotic algae – Divided into three groups that include:
    1. Chloroplasts surrounded by double membranes (belonging to the chloroplast)
    2. Chloroplasts surrounded by a single membrane (of chloroplast E.R)
    3. Chloroplasts surrounded by a double membrane (of chloroplast E.R)

Group 1:  Prokaryotic Algae

  • This first group of algae is made up of cyanobacteria (Cyanophyta).
  • Even though they are more closely related to bacteria than to algae (which are eukaryotic), cyanobacteria are also called blue-green algae.
  • Cyanobacteria are the only organisms in this group. They can do photosynthesis with the help of chlorophyll a, which makes them stand out (while some have b and d).
  • Even though some books list cyanobacteria as a type of algae, this grouping is still a point of debate.

Group 2:  Archaepastida

The chloroplast envelope is made up of two membranes that wrap around the chloroplasts of eukaryotic algae. The three phyla that make up this group are:

  • Glaucophyta – Glaucophyta is a small group of freshwater algae with only one cell. A modified endosymbiotic cyanobacterium can do photosynthesis.
  • Rhodophyta – Rhodophyta is a group of red algae with more than 7,000 species that have been named. Rhodophyta’s photosynthetic pigments are all put together in phycobilisomes. Rhodophyta is one of the oldest groups of eukaryotic algae compared to some of the others.
  • Chlorophyta – Chlorophyta are green algae that have both chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b. In some books, people in this group are called “seaweed.” 

Group 3

This group of algae has a single chloroplast E.R membrane that surrounds the chlorophyll. This group is also called Rhizaria. It is made up of two phyla, which are:

  • Euglenophyta – Euglenids are flagellates that live in fresh water and have both chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b. They also have strips of protein-filled pellicle underneath the plasma membrane.
  • Dinophyta – Dinophyta is a type of seaweed that is usually green (however, they can also be found in freshwater). They also have the chlorophylls a and b and eat bacteria and other small protists in their environment. Chlorarachniophytes have flagella, just like Euglenids. But some of them look like amoebas.
  • Apicomplexa – This group is mostly made up of parasitic alveolates that have a complex structure at the top of their cells called an apicoplast. This is a key part of the organisms that lets them get into the host and make it sick. 

Group 4

Group 4 is made up of algae whose chloroplasts are surrounded by a double membrane of chloroplast E.R. This group is also called Chromista. Compared to the other groups, this one has the most subgroups (phyla), which include the following:

  • Cryptophyta – Members of the Cryptophyta are often found in freshwater environments (but can also be found in marine habitats). They have chlorophylls a and b, just like a lot of other algae. Most of the time, though, they have a flattened shape and a groove on the front.
  • Heterokontophyta – The plants in this group are called heterokonts, and their sizes vary a lot. Kelp, which has many cells, and diatoms, which only have one cell, are both in this group. They also have chlorophyll a and b and a flagellum to help them move.
  • Prymnesiophyta -Members of the Prymnesiophyta have two flagella to move and chlorophylls a and c to make food. They have fucoxanthin that looks like scales and is outside the cell.
  • Phaeophyceae – Phaeophyceae are brown algae with many cells. They are usually found in cold seawater in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Chrysophyceae – Chrysophyceae are algae that are usually golden brown and live in fresh water. They also have two flagella that help them move.
  • Phaeothamniophyceae – Members of this group are golden brown and can look like filaments, coccoid shapes, or fake filaments.
  • Synurophyceae – Some members of the Synurophyceae have four membranes around them. Fucoxanthin, chlorophyll a and c, and chlorophyll c are also traits of these algae, which are usually found in fresh water.
  • Xanthophyceae – Xanthophyceae are algae that are usually found in fresh water and are yellow-green. Some species, though, can also be found in other places (marine and soil). Movement is made possible by a single flagellum or, in some cases, by structures that look like threads.
  • Eustigmatophyceae – This is a small group of plants that live in many different places (freshwater, marine, soil). This group is also made up of organisms with only one cell and a polysaccharide wall around it. Raphidophyceae: Also called chloromonads, these plants can be found in both fresh water and salt water. Organisms with one cell or more than one cell but no cell walls are also made up of parts.
  • Raphidophyceae –  Also called chloromonads, these plants can be found in both fresh water and salt water. Organisms with one cell or more than one cell but no cell walls are also made up of parts.
  • Pinguiophyceae – Pinguiophyceae is a group of marine organisms that are made up of single cells. They have a lot of fatty acids with a chain of hydrocarbons that has several carbon-carbon double bonds.
  • Bacillariophyceae – Bacillariophyceae are made up of diatoms, which can be found in places like soil and the ocean.
  • Dictyochophyceae – Members of this small group, which are also called silicoflagellates, are often found in marine environments and use their flagella to move from one place to another.
  • Bolidophyceae – This group, which has about 20 known species, is made up of aquatic organisms with flagella that are set at an angle.
  • Pelagophyceae – Pelagophyceae are made up of heterokont algae that are usually found in the ocean. They also include single-celled and multi-celled organisms that move with the help of flagella. 

Fun Facts

  • Algae can be anything from 100 feet tall giant kelp to tiny diatoms. It grows different kinds of cyanobacteria, which are also called blue-green algae.
  • Our breakfast smoothie can also be made with cyanobacteria. “Superfood” is another name for spirulina. The nutritional value of non-toxic cyanobacteria is well known. It has proteins, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.
  • Since the 1940s, the Kanembu people of Chad have been harvesting spirulina from local lakes. They did this long before superfoods became popular. Even before that, the Aztecs used to eat a different kind of cyanobacteria that they got from the old Lake Texcoco, which used to be where Mexico City is now. During colonial times, the lake would often dry up.

Study Of Algae

  • Every year, more and more types of algae are found. They are important because they are the most common plant in both salty and fresh water.
  • The branch of botany that studies algae is called phycology.
  • Photosynthesis is the process by which energy is made and oxygen is released.
  • Algae live in water most of the time, but they can live in any marine environment.
  • Algae spread most often through spores, which can be found in water, air, dust, and even in our bodies. It makes it hard to figure out where algae can grow.
  • Algae are usually found in natural hot springs, on duck feet, on the belly of a whale, on the fur of polar bears in zoos, as scum on the surface of the water in a pond, and on the snow and ice in the middle of the mountains.
  • In places like Antarctica, algae can also take the form of tiny spores, or they can grow as kelp up to 65 metres tall in an underwater sea forest.
  • Most people think of algae as something that grows in smelly swamps and dirty ponds. They are red, brown, or green in colour.
  • Most of the time, the colours come from pigments that help them make food. Photosynthesis means that a plant can make energy and give off oxygen at the same time.
  • On Earth, algae are the main source of oxygen. We can’t live without algae because they are the main source of food.

Applications Of Algae

  • Algae have been called “the most important plants in the world.” A lot of progress is made in the field of algology, which is often mistaken for psychology, which is another branch of science.
  • Algae bring in a lot of money for big universities that study Phycology, big businesses, and even regular people. It has huge potential for the environment, society, and money.
  • Algae is one of the main things that make up toothpaste. It’s also one of the things that go into making ice cream.
  • Most of the time, they are used in food, as fertilisers, thickeners, dyes, medicines, fuels, pollution controls, dietary supplements, sewage treatment, and animal feed. Algae are often found in sushi and salads. Algae can be used for many things other than food and medicine.
  • Researchers are always trying to find out something or do some kind of experiment about algae.


  • Culture is one of the most important parts of any branch of science. Algaculture is a part of Phycology’s culture that is separate from its other parts, just like it is in other fields of science.
  • Algae farming is called “algaculture.” It talks about how to grow a plant quickly and in a way that is good for the environment.
  • Most of the time, algae farmers grow and harvest microalgae that will be used as health supplements or biofuel.
  • These new ways to use algae are very important and have a lot of potential. Algae are so interesting that they are often shown on informational channels like “Dirty Jobs.”


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Why do Laboratory incubators need CO2? What is Karyotyping? What are the scope of Microbiology? What is DNA Library? What is Simple Staining? What is Negative Staining? What is Western Blot? What are Transgenic Plants? Breakthrough Discovery: Crystal Cells in Fruit Flies Key to Oxygen Transport What is Northern Blotting?
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