People’s use of algae

What are algae?

Algae are a photosynthetically diverse group of organisms, including the cyanobacteria (previously called blue-green algae), ranging in size from bacteria (0.2-2 microns) to giant kelps (tens [40]of metres). They are nearly all aquatic. They are classified in two Kingdoms. Red and green algae are included in the Kingdom Plantae, the Brown algae and the Diatoms are in the Kingdom Chromista.

The Cyanobacteria are now generally included in the Kingdom Monera. There are clearly problems at least with the larger forms and the present classification includes some elements of NOT being an animal, a plant or a fungus.

There are 6 phyla plus the Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) which are included here both for historical reasons and convenience.

Diatoms and chrysophytesChrysophyta
DinoflagellatesPyrrophyta
EuglenoidsEuglenophyta
Red algaeRhodophyta
Brown algaePhaeophyta
Green algaeChlorophyta
Blue green algaeCyanobac

Useful species, common names, some of their uses?

SpeciesCommon nameUses
acanthopeltisagar
Ahnfeltia plicata
in USSR
agar
Anaebaena-Azolla
symbiosis
“green manure”Inoculation of 0.2 kg of Azolla per hectare is
equivalent to 30 kg/hectare of commercial nitrogen
fertilizer. Not as popular now because we
have found that Azolla growth is limited by phosphate, which
is non-renewable. Next break is low-phosphorus requiring
Azolla
Ascophyllum nodosum
(bladder wrack)
alginatesthickening agents (fruit drinks and salad
dressing), colloid stabilizers in food (ice
creams, sherbets and cheeses), textile, cosmetic,
pharmaceutical, paper and welding industries.
Calcareous algaeto reduce
soil acidity.
Caulerpa racemosa
(Nama) in Fiji
food
Chlamydomonas
and other soil algae
soil
amendment
by making mucilage that loosen compacted
soil.
Chlorellaonly microscopic green
used commercially
Chondrus crispus
(Irish Moss)
agar, carrageenan
Codium geppii
(Sagati) in Fiji
food
Diatom fossils
(diatomaceous earth, diatomite)
flea killers, embalming compounds, enamel
polishes, diatomaceous bricks, to
filter sewage in UK from 1976, to filter sugar cane liquors
from 1914; Nobel stabilized
nitroglycerine.
Durvillaea
(Australia & Chile)
alginatesthickening agents (fruit drinks and salad
dressing), colloid stabilizers in food (ice
creams, sherbets and cheeses), textile, cosmetic,
pharmaceutical, paper and welding industries.
Eckloniaalginatesthickening agents (fruit drinks and salad
dressing), colloid stabilizers in food (ice
creams, sherbets and cheeses), textile, cosmetic,
pharmaceutical, paper and welding industries.
Eucheuma
in Philippines
carrageenan
Furcillaria fastigiata
in Denmark
agar
Gelidium amansii
in Japan
agar
Gelidium arborescens
in USA
agar
Gelidium cartillagineum
in USA
agar
Gelidium latifolium
in Ireland.
agar
Gelidium nudifrons
in USA.
agar
Gelidium pulchellum
Ireland
agar
Gigartina clavifera
in New Zealand
carrageenan
Gigartina mamillosa
(very similar and known as Irish Moss).
carrageenan
Gigartina undulata
in New Zealand
carrageenan
Gracilaria
(Lumicevata) in Fiji
food
Hypnea (Lumiwawa)
in Fiji
food
Kelp and mixed seaweedsliquid
fertilizers, soil amendment
Wayne and Wanda! rich in potassium and
nitrogen but low in phosphate. Free of
terrestrial weeds and fungi.
Kelps (Kombu)vegetables in
Japan and China
Laminaria (kelp – English; kombu – Japan and China)
Food.
Maybe 75% of their dry bulk is indigestible
Laminaria digitata
in UK and Norway
alginatesthickening agents (fruit drinks and salad
dressing), colloid stabilizers in food (ice
creams, sherbets and cheeses), textile, cosmetic,
pharmaceutical, paper and welding industries.
Laminaria cloustoni (oar weed)alginatesthickening agents (fruit drinks and salad
dressing) colloid stabilizers in food (ice
creams, sherbets and cheeses), textile, cosmetic,
pharmaceutical, paper and welding industries.
Macrocystis pyrifera (kelp – USA)alginatesthickening agents (fruit drinks and salad
dressing) colloid stabilizers in food (ice
creams, sherbets and cheeses), textile, cosmetic,
pharmaceutical, paper and welding industries.
Mastocarpus stellata in British Isles.agar
Phyllophora nervosa in USSR.agar
Porphyra (laver – England and USA; luche – Chile;
karengo – Maori; nori – Japan; slack – Scotland; sloke –
Ireland)
Food – Maybe 75% of their
dry bulk is indigestible. Toasted and used to wrap sushi
North Pacific. Cultivated for centuries in Japan, Korea and
China
Pterocladiaagar
Spirulinafood protein –
blue-green used for protein food in old (Lake
Chad) and new world (Aztecs before
conquistadores)
Ulvafood –
eaten as a green vegetable
Undaria pinnatifida (wakame)food –
Maybe 75% of their dry bulk is indigestible

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