Algae are a type of plant that grows in water. They can be found in both salt and fresh water, as well as brackish water (water mixed with salt). Many algae use chlorophyll to produce oxygen and carbohydrates.
The big wig: Algae are essentially spherical cells that contain proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. Their main protein is the chlorophyll molecule which consists of
They make up the bulk of a river or lake, and are responsible for the odd odor and color of the waters they occupy. Some algae are good for the environment, while others are bad.
Most algae are photoautotrophs, meaning they use light to turn carbon dioxide and sunlight into food. This process is called photosynthesis and can be accomplished by a variety of techniques, but most rely on the same ol' photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll a.
A dazzling array of colorful forms, some as small as nanoparticles, can be seen when an algae bloom occurs in a pond, lake or river. Some are toxic and some can rot the surrounding soil or even grow into trees.
The best way to get a close up look is to visit an aquarium or a natural history museum. This is where you can learn about the many species of algae, their namesakes and what they are doing to our environment. We also have a large selection of books and videos about different types of algae, their biology, morphology, and ecology.