Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

The Rhodophyta (red algae) are a distinct eukaryotic lineage characterized by the accessory photosynthetic pigments phycoerythrin, phycocyanin and allophycocyanins arranged in phycobilisomes, and the absence of flagella and centrioles (Woelkerling 1990). This is a large assemblage of between 2500 and 6000 species in about 670 largely marine genera (Woelkerling 1990) that predominate along the coastal and continental shelf areas of tropical, temperate and cold-water regions (Lüning 1990). Red algae are ecologically significant as primary producers, providers of structural habitat for other marine organisms, and their important role in the primary establishment and maintenance of coral reefs. Some red algae are economically important as providers of food and gels. For this reason, extensive farming and natural harvest of red algae occurs in numerous areas of the world.

Figure 1. Seaweed farmers tending a Kappaphycus line culture in the Philippines.
Kappaphycus and other Gigartinales species are grown commercially for the extraction of carrageenan, a gel used in many food products.
Image copyright © 2000, D. F. Kapraun.

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Comprehensive Description

Characteristics

Red algae have a number of general characteristics that in combination distinguish them from other eukaryotic groups:

  • absence of flagella and centrioles
  • floridean starch as a storage product and the storage of starch in the cytoplasm (Figure 2)
  • phycoerythrin, phycocyanin, and allophycocyanin as accessory pigments
  • unstacked thylakoids in plastids (Figure 3)
  • no chloroplast endoplasmic reticulum

Figure 2. Griffithsia pacifica (Florideophyceae). Electron micrograph showing cytoplasm with numerous chloroplasts (C) and starch (S). Starch is the photosynthetic reserve and is deposited free in the cytoplasm.
Image copyright © 2000, C. M. Pueschel.

Figure 3. Griffithsia pacifica (Florideophyceae). Close-up of figure 2 electron micrograph showing a chloroplast with unstacked photosynthetic lamellae (arrows) bearing granules, called phycobilosomes (arrowheads), composed of water-soluble phycobiliprotein accessory pigments.
Image copyright © 2000, C. M. Pueschel.

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description of Rhodophyta

= Red algae Circumscription: The red algae, unicellular to multicellular (up to 1 m) mostly free-living but some parasitic or symbiotic, with chloroplasts containing phycobilins. Cell walls made of cellulose with mucopolysaccharides penetrated in many red algae by pores partially blocked by proteins (complex referred to as pit connections). Usually with separated phases of vegetative growth and sexual reproduction. Common and widespread, ecologically important, economically important (source of agar). No flagella. Ultrastructural identity: Mitochondria with flat cristae, sometimes associated with forming faces of dictyosomes. Thylakoids single, with phycobilisomes, plastids with peripheral thylakoid. During mitosis, nuclear envelope mostly remains intact but some microtubules of spindle extend from noncentriolar polar bodies through polar gaps in the nuclear envelope. Synapomorphy: No clear-cut feature available; possibly pit connections Composition: About 4,000 species.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

biopedia

Source: BioPedia

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description of Algae

Colloquial term used for all photosynthetic organisms that are not part of the multicellular green plants. Includes prokaryotes such as the cyanobacteria as well as eukaryotes. The eukaryotes may be unicellular (euglenids, dinoflagellates, cryptophytes, chrysophytes, etc.) or multicellular (red algae, brown algae and green algae).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

biopedia

Source: BioPedia

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Associations

Known predators

Rhodophyta (Unknown red algae species) is prey of:
Pirara
Tanytarsini
Baraeoptera roria
Oligochaeta II
Hydora nitida
Olinga feredayi
Pycnocentria
Scirtidae
Orthoclad Blue Black
Orchymontia

Based on studies in:
New Zealand: Otago, Broad, Lee catchment (River)
New Zealand: Otago, Stony, Sutton catchment (River)
New Zealand: Otago, Dempster's Stream, Taieri River, 3 O'Clock catchment (River)
New Zealand: Otago, Sutton Stream, Taieri River, Sutton catchment (River)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Townsend, CR, Thompson, RM, McIntosh, AR, Kilroy, C, Edwards, ED, Scarsbrook, MR. 1998. Disturbance, resource supply and food-web architecture in streams. Ecology Letters 1:200-209.
  • Thompson, RM and Townsend, CR. 1999. The effect of seasonal variation on the community structure and food-web attributes of two streams: implications for food-web science. Oikos 87: 75-88.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© SPIRE project

Source: SPIRE

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

  • Rhodophyta
    • Cyanidium
    • Porphyridiales
    • Compsopogonales
    • Bangiales
    • Florideophyceae

Taxa indicated by '*' are members of the traditional Bangiophyceae/Bangiophycidae that is now considered to be paraphyletic.

Traditionally the red algae were divided into two Classes the Bangiophyceae and Florideophyceae. Alternatively a single Class, the Rhodophyceae and two Subclasses, Bangiophycidae and Florideophycidae are used. Based on ultrastructure and molecular evidence the Bangiophyceae is now accepted as a paraphyletic group, while the Florideophyceae is considered to be monophyletic based on two synapomorphic characters - presence of a filamentous gonimoblast and tetrasporangia (Garbary & Gabrielson 1990 [and references within], Ragan et al. 1994).

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 39358
Specimens with Sequences: 32199
Specimens with Barcodes: 21433
Species: 4608
Species With Barcodes: 4116
Public Records: 21009
Public Species: 2188
Public BINs: 2647
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Barcode data

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Genomic DNA is available from 1 specimen with morphological vouchers housed at National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Auckland
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Ocean Genome Legacy

Source: Ocean Genome Resource

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!