How are phytoplankton different from plant-like algae?


How are phytoplankton different from plant-like algae?


Phytoplankton are a group of unrelated microscopic organisms that share a similar habitat and role in the ecosystem. They are photosynthetic, meaning that they obtain their energy from the sun. Marine species live in the upper sunny layers of the ocean, where there is abundant sunlight. They drift around on ocean currents, with no ability to control where they go. They are named after the Greek word "plankton," which means "made to wander or drift." There are freshwater phytoplankton as well. Phytoplankton make up the foundation of the food web in aquatic environments, and so they are extremely important. Many different types of organisms, including algae, cyanobacteria, and organisms once called "protists," can all be found in phytoplankton.

Plant-like algae are algae that share the characteristics of land plants. In general, plant-like algae have the ability to photosynthesize, possess structures that resemble roots, branches, and leaves, and have a relatively large size. Additionally, some algae are more closely related to land plants than other groups of algae. These are called the Charophytes. One of the ancestors of modern Charophytes, around 450-500 million years ago, was able to survive on dry land, and gave rise to all of the land plants we see today.

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  • All of the organisms that comprise phytoplankton can photosynthesize, and this is true of plant-like algae also.


  • Phytopla...

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Learn more about this topic:

The Evolution of Green Algae into Land Plants


Chapter 29 / Lesson 2

Explore the evolution of plants. Learn about when plant life first appeared on Earth, what the ancestor of land plants is, and view a timeline of plant evolution.

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