Filamentous Algae

Filamentous Algae in French Hill Pond

Filamentous Algae, sometimes called Hair Algae, are nonvascular, algae colonies. Algae cells can organize themselves in many thousands of configurations depending upon the environment. All these configurations are nonvascular, that is, the plant has no veins. Often algae cells will stick together in long strings often forming a hair-like tube as seen in the photograph below. These filaments can be unbranched or branched. They may be attached to one another at their base with a rudimentary root system that can be imbedded in mud or attached to submerged objects like rocks or logs. Filamentous Algae can be easily detached and often float on the surface of a pond forming green mats. The Filamentous Algae in French Hill Pond generally stay submerged. Any independent configuration of algae, even a stand-alone cell, is called a "thallus" (the plural is thalli). A Filamentous Algae is a thallus. All algae cells are eukaryotes.

Filamentous Algae (Tribophyte tribonema)

The following 1000X microphotograph shows the algae cells in a Filamentous Algae from French Hill Pond. The chloroplasts are seen in the very simple algae cells. Algae cells of this sample vary in length from 25 μm to 40  μm and are all about 15  μm wide. Algae cells can be very long. The chloroplasts are the green blobs, technically plastids or organelles, each about 5  μm in diameter. This algae colony obtains water, nutrients and carbon dioxide from the pond water that flows over the exposed cells. Stomata are unnecessary. Photosynthesis occurs within each algae cell allowing the cell to multiply. The byproducts are released by each cell to the pond water. The algae cells will store carbohydrates and other byproducts of photosynthesis that the cells require for growth and reproduction.

Chloroplasts in Filamentous Algae

A semi-collapsed Filamentous Algae is shown in the next 100X microphotograph. This microphotograph demonstrates that this Filamentous Algae is hollow and the walls as thin as the thickness of one algae cell making these plants very delicate. Note the arrangement of the overlapping algae cells forming a pattern of H-shaped, cellular-boundary units laid on their sides. This pattern is typical of an unbranched Filamentous Algae with the scientific name Tribophyte. These unbranched Filamentous Algae are very common near the shore of French Hill Pond. Sometimes, they become detached and will float near the surface of the pond but will remain submerged. These colonies have no skeletal support and become limp masses when removed from the water. They provide oxygen to the water when alive. However, the dead and decaying Filamentous Algae remove oxygen from the water. Farmers will often remove Filamentous Algae from their ponds before the algae die to preserve dissolved oxygen. Filamentous Algae make excellent organic fertilizer when composted. The composting of these thalli produces noxious fumes. Therefore, farmers will mix other material in the compost heap to reduce the odor.

Collapsed Filamentous Algae

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