We are all familiar with algae but did you know that algae are not a single plant or a singular organism but a large and diverse group of photosynthetic organisms? There are various types of algae from diatoms to multi-cellular organisms and they all require sunlight in order to thrive along with a watery environment. This is why you are more likely to find algae infesting coral reefs than on dry land; algae have proven themselves to be tenacious and as a result, can be found inhabiting both fresh and seawater. So let’s take a closer look at the life cycle of algae, shall we?
The Algae, of which there are various types often undergo four distinct patterns of the life cycle, each of which are described below in detail.
- Haplontic life cycle: The plant body is a gametophyte, and is a haploid where the diploid is represented by the formation of the Zygote. Essentially, the plant organism haploid gametes in the gametangium where the gametes fuse with each other to help create a zygote, which in turn undergoes cell division and splits into four meiospores. These meiospores then go on to become haploid plants and the life cycle starts all over again. This is also a monogenetic life cycle and certain algae species often utilize this life cycle to help create new haploids.
- Diplontic life cycle: The organism, in question, is a sporophyte and as such it has sexual organs’ It uses the same to produce gametes which undergo fertilization immediately and form Zygote. The Zygote, in this case, does not undergo meiosis and instead gives rise to a new plant body and the cycle continues as before. Certain algae like Fucus and Sargassum often use this kind of life cycle to produce new sporophytes.
- Diplohaplontic life cycle: In this stage, both forms of the plant organism exists as both a haploid an diploid and both produce gametes and continue their life cycle as mentioned earlier. The algae reproduce by both these methods by both sexual methods as is the case with gametophytes and asexual as is the case with Diploid sporophytic plants.
- Triphasic lifecycle: This consists of two types; the first one is the haplobiontic type where the haploid stage of the plant is much more prominent than its diploid stage. The plant allows for a single diploid stage, which takes place between two successive haploid stages. The other type is the diplobiontic type where the diploid stage is more prominent than the haploid stage; the haploid stage occurs only minimally and that too between successive diploid stages.
This is the basic life cycle of algae; and while to look at it may seem that algae are just ordinary, in reality, they are anything but that. To put it in perspective, algae played a pivotal role in reshaping our atmosphere and making it a viable one for all species to enjoy. Today, we even include algae in our daily diet in the form of seaweed, which only goes on to show you that this plant organism is one of the most complex ones on the surface of our planet.
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