Algae are an unusual form of plants that thrive on water systems and rely on the process of photosynthesis for growth. Algae can adapt to any environment and wide range of conditions, but are more commonly found in damp places and bodies of water.
Algae, according to researchers, live several million years ago and produce large volumes of oxygen than any other plants in the world can. Algae are single-celled organisms that live and grow like plants; they have complex reproductive systems that allow them to multiply quickly and uncontrollably. Although they have features at par with plants, algae are considered a form of bacteria that can fertilize on its own. Through this, algae burgeon in a matter of seconds and they could almost cover an entire water feature. Algae not only thrive in water, but they also grow on rocks, shrubs, sewage, terrestrial plants, snow, soil, farm dams, and etc. In fact, the habitats of algae are varied, making them the most adaptive type of organisms.
Algae are classified the same way as identifying the class of land plants. However, algae differ from plants through their structure and features such as flagellar apparatus, cell division process, and organelle structure. The classes or types of algae are classified by the structure of flagellate cells, the nuclear division process or mitosis, the cytoplasmic division process, and the cell covering. However, the aforementioned algal classification is strictly scientific; most people distinguish the type of algae through its colour. The colours of algae that are known to many are red, brown, yellow, green, and the most popular -blue and blue green.
The widespread of algae in water systems draw fear and attention from the public due to its threat on health and safety. The occasional growth and high amounts of algae in water (spring, ponds, lakes, and oceans) can cause toxicity to aquatic animals, plants, and even human beings. Drinking algae contaminated water may bring various diseases such as headache, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever. Swimming in a highly algae infested water is perilous. This can aggravate the irritation of the eyes, nose, ears, and can also lead to respiratory problems.
There are harmful effects of algae in the environment. Harmful algal bloom or HABs is a potential hazard to the environment that can greatly inflict the livelihood of commercial fish farmers. Several states in U.S and some places in Australia had experienced the massive influx of algae in coastal waters and commercial fisheries that resulted to millions of loss and damage. In Dallas, Texas, there are thousands of fish died due to the widespread of harmful algal bloom. Harmful algae bloom also plagued the White River, one of the largest sources of tap water in Indianapolis.
Although algae are popular for its bad impact on the environment, there are benefits derived from algae. Did you know that algae can be a good source of fuel? Algae technology has become an emerging trend throughout United States. Algae can be utilized to produce Biodiesels and Bioethanol, and even vegetable oils. Scientists also claimed that algae can be produce biomass needed to generate heat and electricity. And surprisingly, algae can be used as food supplement for its high levels of protein and amino acids.