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#1 2024-03-27 00:38:20

Jai Ganesh
Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 46,122

Blue Green Algae

Blue Green Algae


Cyanobacteria, formerly known as blue-green algae, are photosynthetic microscopic organisms that are technically bacteria. They were originally called blue-green algae because dense growths often turn the water green, blue-green or brownish-green. These algae are found in all lakes and are a natural part of the lake ecosystem. Unfortunately, high nutrient concentrations can promote a population explosion of these organisms and result in algal blooms, especially during warm weather.


Blue-green algae are any of a large, heterogeneous group of prokaryotic, principally photosynthetic organisms. Cyanobacteria resemble the eukaryotic algae in many ways, including morphological characteristics and ecological niches, and were at one time treated as algae, hence the common name of blue-green algae. Algae have since been reclassified as protists, and the prokaryotic nature of the blue-green algae has caused them to be classified with bacteria in the prokaryotic kingdom Monera.

Like all other prokaryotes, cyanobacteria lack a membrane-bound nucleus, mitochondria, Golgi apparatus, chloroplasts, and endoplasmic reticulum. All of the functions carried out in eukaryotes by these membrane-bound organelles are carried out in prokaryotes by the bacterial cell membrane. Some cyanobacteria, especially planktonic forms, have gas vesicles that contribute to their buoyancy. Chemical, genetic, and physiological characteristics are used to further classify the group within the kingdom. Cyanobacteria may be unicellular or filamentous. Many have sheaths to bind other cells or filaments into colonies.

Cyanobacteria contain only one form of chlorophyll, chlorophyll a, a green pigment. In addition, they contain various yellowish carotenoids, the blue pigment phycobilin, and, in some species, the red pigment phycoerythrin. The combination of phycobilin and chlorophyll produces the characteristic blue-green colour from which these organisms derive their popular name. Because of the other pigments, however, many species are actually green, brown, yellow, black, or red.

Most cyanobacteria do not grow in the absence of light (i.e., they are obligate phototrophs); however, some can grow in the dark if there is a sufficient supply of glucose to act as a carbon and energy source.

In addition to being photosynthetic, many species of cyanobacteria can also “fix” atmospheric nitrogen—that is, they can transform the gaseous nitrogen of the air into compounds that can be used by living cells. Particularly efficient nitrogen fixers are found among the filamentous species that have specialized cells called heterocysts. The heterocysts are thick-walled cell inclusions that are impermeable to oxygen; they provide the anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment necessary for the operation of the nitrogen-fixing enzymes. In Southeast Asia, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria often are grown in rice paddies, thereby eliminating the need to apply nitrogen fertilizers.

Cyanobacteria range in size from 0.5 to 60 micrometres, which represents the largest prokaryotic organism. They are widely distributed and are extremely common in fresh water, where they occur as members of both the plankton and the benthos. They are also abundantly represented in such habitats as tide pools, coral reefs, and tidal spray zones; a few species also occur in the ocean plankton. On land, cyanobacteria are common in soil down to a depth of 1 m (39 inches) or more; they also grow on moist surfaces of rocks and trees, where they appear in the form of cushions or layers.

Cyanobacteria flourish in some of the most inhospitable environments known. They can be found in hot springs, in cold lakes underneath 5 m of ice pack, and on the lower surfaces of many rocks in deserts. Cyanobacteria are frequently among the first colonizers of bare rock and soil. Various types of associations take place between cyanobacteria and other organisms. Certain species, for example, grow in a mutualistic relationship with fungi, forming composite organisms known as lichens.

Cyanobacteria reproduce asexually, either by means of binary or multiple fission in unicellular and colonial forms or by fragmentation and spore formation in filamentous species. Under favourable conditions, cyanobacteria can reproduce at explosive rates, forming dense concentrations called blooms. Cyanobacteria blooms can colour a body of water. For example, many ponds take on an opaque shade of green as a result of overgrowths of cyanobacteria, and blooms of phycoerythrin-rich species cause the occasional red colour of the Red Sea. Cyanobacteria blooms are especially common in waters that have been polluted by nitrogen wastes; in such cases, the overgrowths of cyanobacteria can consume so much of the water’s dissolved oxygen that fish and other aquatic organisms perish.


Cyanobacteria, also called Cyanobacteriota or Cyanophyta, are a phylum of autotrophic gram-negative bacteria that can obtain biological energy via photosynthesis. The name 'cyanobacteria' refers to their color (from Ancient Greek 'blue'), which similarly forms the basis of cyanobacteria's common name, blue-green algae, although they are not scientifically classified as algae. They appear to have originated in a freshwater or terrestrial environment.

Cyanobacteria are probably the most numerous taxon to have ever existed on Earth and the first organisms known to have produced oxygen. By producing and releasing oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, cyanobacteria are thought to have converted the early oxygen-poor, reducing atmosphere into an oxidizing one, causing the Great Oxidation Event and the "rusting of the Earth", which dramatically changed the composition of life forms on Earth.

Cyanobacteria use photosynthetic pigments, such as various forms of chlorophyll, carotenoids, phycobilins to convert the energy in sunlight to chemical energy. Unlike heterotrophic prokaryotes, cyanobacteria have internal membranes. These are flattened sacs called thylakoids where photosynthesis is performed. Phototrophic eukaryotes such as green plants perform photosynthesis in plastids that are thought to have their ancestry in cyanobacteria, acquired long ago via a process called endosymbiosis. These endosymbiotic cyanobacteria in eukaryotes then evolved and differentiated into specialized organelles such as chloroplasts, chromoplasts, etioplasts, and leucoplasts, collectively known as plastids.

Sericytochromatia, the proposed name of the paraphyletic and most basal group, is the ancestor of both the non-photosynthetic group Melainabacteria and the photosynthetic cyanobacteria, also called Oxyphotobacteria.

The cyanobacteria Synechocystis and Cyanothece are important model organisms with potential applications in biotechnology for bioethanol production, food colorings, as a source of human and animal food, dietary supplements and raw materials. Cyanobacteria produce a range of toxins known as cyanotoxins that can cause harmful health effects in humans and animals.


* Cyanobacteria are found almost everywhere. Sea spray containing marine microorganisms, including cyanobacteria, can be swept high into the atmosphere where they become aeroplankton, and can travel the globe before falling back to earth.
* Cyanobacteria are a very large and diverse phylum of photosynthetic prokaryotes. They are defined by their unique combination of pigments and their ability to perform oxygenic photosynthesis. They often live in colonial aggregates that can take on a multitude of forms. Of particular interest are the filamentous species, which often dominate the upper layers of microbial mats found in extreme environments such as hot springs, hypersaline water, deserts and the polar regions, but are also widely distributed in more mundane environments as well. They are evolutionarily optimized for environmental conditions of low oxygen. Some species are nitrogen-fixing and live in a wide variety of moist soils and water, either freely or in a symbiotic relationship with plants or lichen-forming fungi (as in the lichen genus Peltigera).

Cyanobacteria are globally widespread photosynthetic prokaryotes and are major contributors to global biogeochemical cycles. They are the only oxygenic photosynthetic prokaryotes, and prosper in diverse and extreme habitats. They are among the oldest organisms on Earth with fossil records dating back at least 2.1 billion years. Since then, cyanobacteria have been essential players in the Earth's ecosystems. Planktonic cyanobacteria are a fundamental component of marine food webs and are major contributors to global carbon and nitrogen fluxes. Some cyanobacteria form harmful algal blooms causing the disruption of aquatic ecosystem services and intoxication of wildlife and humans by the production of powerful toxins (cyanotoxins) such as microcystins, saxitoxin, and cylindrospermopsin. Nowadays, cyanobacterial blooms pose a serious threat to aquatic environments and public health, and are increasing in frequency and magnitude globally.

Cyanobacteria are ubiquitous in marine environments and play important roles as primary producers. They are part of the marine phytoplankton, which currently contributes almost half of the Earth's total primary production. About 25% of the global marine primary production is contributed by cyanobacteria.

Within the cyanobacteria, only a few lineages colonized the open ocean: Crocosphaera and relatives, cyanobacterium UCYN-A, Trichodesmium, as well as Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus. From these lineages, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria are particularly important because they exert a control on primary productivity and the export of organic carbon to the deep ocean, by converting nitrogen gas into ammonium, which is later used to make amino acids and proteins. Marine picocyanobacteria (Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus) numerically dominate most phytoplankton assemblages in modern oceans, contributing importantly to primary productivity. While some planktonic cyanobacteria are unicellular and free living cells (e.g., Crocosphaera, Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus); others have established symbiotic relationships with haptophyte algae, such as coccolithophores. Amongst the filamentous forms, Trichodesmium are free-living and form aggregates. However, filamentous heterocyst-forming cyanobacteria (e.g., Richelia, Calothrix) are found in association with diatoms such as Hemiaulus, Rhizosolenia and Chaetoceros.

Marine cyanobacteria include the smallest known photosynthetic organisms. The smallest of all, Prochlorococcus, is just 0.5 to 0.8 micrometres across. In terms of numbers of individuals, Prochlorococcus is possibly the most plentiful genus on Earth: a single millilitre of surface seawater can contain 100,000 cells of this genus or more. Worldwide there are estimated to be several octillion ({10}^{27}, a billion billion billion) individuals. Prochlorococcus is ubiquitous between latitudes 40°N and 40°S, and dominates in the oligotrophic (nutrient-poor) regions of the oceans. The bacterium accounts for about 20% of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere.


Cyanobacteria are variable in morphology, ranging from unicellular and filamentous to colonial forms. Filamentous forms exhibit functional cell differentiation such as heterocysts (for nitrogen fixation), akinetes (resting stage cells), and hormogonia (reproductive, motile filaments). These, together with the intercellular connections they possess, are considered the first signs of multicellularity.

Many cyanobacteria form motile filaments of cells, called hormogonia, that travel away from the main biomass to bud and form new colonies elsewhere. The cells in a hormogonium are often thinner than in the vegetative state, and the cells on either end of the motile chain may be tapered. To break away from the parent colony, a hormogonium often must tear apart a weaker cell in a filament, called a necridium.


It appears to me that if one wants to make progress in mathematics, one should study the masters and not the pupils. - Niels Henrik Abel.

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.


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