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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the traits shared by green algae and land plants
  • Explain the reasons why Charales are considered the closest relative to land plants
  • Understand that current phylogenetic relationships are reshaped by comparative analysis of DNA sequences

Streptophytes

Until recently, all photosynthetic eukaryotes were considered members of the kingdom Plantae. The brown, red, and gold algae, however, have been reassigned to the Protista kingdom. This is because apart from their ability to capture light energy and fix CO 2 , they lack many structural and biochemical traits that distinguish plants from protists. The position of green algae is more ambiguous. Green algae contain the same carotenoids and chlorophyll a and b as land plants, whereas other algae have different accessory pigments and types of chlorophyll molecules in addition to chlorophyll a . Both green algae and land plants also store carbohydrates as starch. Cells in green algae divide along cell plates called phragmoplasts, and their cell walls are layered in the same manner as the cell walls of embryophytes. Consequently, land plants and closely related green algae are now part of a new monophyletic group called Streptophyta .

The remaining green algae, which belong to a group called Chlorophyta, include more than 7000 different species that live in fresh or brackish water, in seawater, or in snow patches. A few green algae even survive on soil, provided it is covered by a thin film of moisture in which they can live. Periodic dry spells provide a selective advantage to algae that can survive water stress. Some green algae may already be familiar, in particular Spirogyra and desmids. Their cells contain chloroplasts that display a dizzying variety of shapes, and their cell walls contain cellulose, as do land plants. Some green algae are single cells, such as Chlorella and Chlamydomonas , which adds to the ambiguity of green algae classification, because plants are multicellular. Other algae, like Ulva (commonly called sea lettuce), form colonies ( [link] ).

Light micrograph A shows rectangular Spirogyra cells linked in a chain. Light micrograph B shows a oval green desmid cell. Electron micrograph C shows egg-shaped Chlamydomonas cells attached to thin stalks. Photo D shows a colony of Ulva that resembles leaf lettuce.
Chlorophyta include (a) Spirogyra , (b) desmids, (c) Chlamydomonas , and (d) Ulva. Desmids and Chlamydomonas are single-celled organisms, Spirogyra forms chains of cells, and Ulva forms colonies resembling leaves (credit b: modification of work by Derek Keats; credit c: modification of work by Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College; credit d: modification of work by Holger Krisp; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Reproduction of green algae

Green algae reproduce both asexually, by fragmentation or dispersal of spores, or sexually, by producing gametes that fuse during fertilization. In a single-celled organism such as Chlamydomonas , there is no mitosis after fertilization. In the multicellular Ulva , a sporophyte grows by mitosis after fertilization. Both Chlamydomonas and Ulva produce flagellated gametes.

Charales

Green algae in the order Charales, and the coleochaetes (microscopic green algae that enclose their spores in sporopollenin), are considered the closest living relatives of embryophytes. The Charales can be traced back 420 million years. They live in a range of fresh water habitats and vary in size from a few millimeters to a meter in length. The representative species is Chara ( [link] ), often called muskgrass or skunkweed because of its unpleasant smell. Large cells form the thallus: the main stem of the alga. Branches arising from the nodes are made of smaller cells. Male and female reproductive structures are found on the nodes, and the sperm have flagella. Unlike land plants, Charales do not undergo alternation of generations in their lifecycle. Charales exhibit a number of traits that are significant in their adaptation to land life. They produce the compounds lignin and sporopollenin, and form plasmodesmata that connect the cytoplasm of adjacent cells. The egg, and later, the zygote, form in a protected chamber on the parent plant.

 Chara is a water plant with a long, flexible green stem. Whorls of slender stalks periodically radiate from the stem.
The representative alga, Chara, is a noxious weed in Florida, where it clogs waterways. (credit: South Florida Information Access, U.S. Geological Survey)

New information from recent, extensive DNA sequence analysis of green algae indicates that the Zygnematales are more closely related to the embryophytes than the Charales. The Zygnematales include the familiar genus Spirogyra. As techniques in DNA analysis improve and new information on comparative genomics arises, the phylogenetic connections between species will change. Clearly, plant biologists have not yet solved the mystery of the origin of land plants.

Section summary

Green algae share more traits with land plants than other algae, according to structure and DNA analysis. Charales form sporopollenin and precursors of lignin, phragmoplasts, and have flagellated sperm. They do not exhibit alternation of generations.

Questions & Answers

Is there any other type of a eukaryotic cell.
Grace Reply
what is bionomial nomenclature
Rachaelda Reply
state the role of mitochondria
Rachaelda
mitochondria ia power House of the cell. it provides energy and as ATP. Cells energy currency.
Haider
The scientific method of giving short names on the basis of genius and species.
Haider
it is introduce by carlous Lennieus
Haider
what is element
Kofi Reply
Structure of water molecule and it's biological significance. .....help guys
Ashly
what is the formula for chemical equetion
Justo Reply
Why mitochondria is called the power house of the congo the bahamas cell
Farrukh Reply
how can I learn this subject?
mascuud Reply
what's microscope?
Mathias Reply
A device used to study a very small specimen thst cannt br seen with the naked eyes for example cells, or microorganisms.
Danisha
a medical device used to study cells bacteria viruses and parasites e.g electron microscope for studying cells.
Grace
exactly microscope
Randa
what does multi seminar mean
Grace Reply
how many cells on the human
Amar Reply
how is genetic testing?
Nyabuoy
test
Nyuongatdet
which party of an internal leaf which represent organ and tissue
fernando
3 trilleons cells on the human
Jyoti
name the groups of bacteria, what they cause and explain the components of bacterial cell
Emmanuel
what are the three level of relationship that exist between organism?
Chinedu
trillions of cells
Grace
who many cell are in the human body
Ayasso Reply
trillions of cells
Grace
what causes coloring of skin variation
Prince Reply
what is your answer
Jonathan Reply
which qn
Randa
what is chemosynthesis
Irene
who many cell are in the human body
Ayasso
there are billion cells in human body
fazeela
what are three stages of mitosis
jerry
they're alot cells in our body
jerry
what are the stages of mitosis
jerry
they are prophez methaphez anaphez. thelophez
fazeela
anyone to explain each of the following,, prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase
jerry
what is a filial
Mbah Reply
what is the difference between chlorophyll and photosynthesis
Rahman Reply
Chloe is the green pigment found in green plants while photosynthesis is the process by which plant produce their own food
mary
photosynthesis is the production of food by plant while chlorophyll is the green pigment that is found in chloroplast..
jerry
chrolophyll (green colouring matter in leaves) while photosynthesis (process by which green plants make their own food)
Nakhombi
What isaac life
Farrukh
chlorophyll is the pigment that gives a plant its green color while photosynthesis is when a plant makes it's own food.
Grace
what are the functions of parts of microscope
Bami Reply
base to provide support
Ian
only base what about the other
Bami
has only one function
Mark
Mirror ... used to reflect light
Irene

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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