Blue algae: characteristics and species

Blue algae: characteristics and species

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There are some commonly called bacteria cyanobacteria and scientifically called Cyanobacteria, Cianofita, Myxoficee, Schizoficee or, again, Cianoficee, and which we can also call Blue algae. These are prokaryotic and autotrophic unicellular bacteria.

In theory, speaking of alga would be incorrect, because in reality this term should refer to a eukaryotic organism - unicellular or multicellular - belonging to the Kingdom of the protists. Should be correct, but now the term Blue algae has entered the common language, we can continue to use it, therefore, after having made this necessary clarification

Blue algae: characteristics

These bacteria are called blue because they really are. Light blue, blue-green, is the color that these creatures take due to the presence of phycocyanin, a greenish or bluish pigment that manages to cover the bright green color of chlorophyll to perfection.

In the Blue Algae we also find allophycocyanins and phycoerethrins, the former are responsible for the blue shades while the latter contribute to a shade that tends to red. The pigments present are not finished, there are also zeaxanthin, β-carotene, myxoxanthophyll and echinone.

These bacteria are particularly interesting to scholars because they are the most ancient life forms ever, dating back beyond 3 billion years ago and most likely they are among the first organisms that colonized the Earth first, thanks also to the fact that they are able to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis.

There are some characteristics of blue algae that should be remembered, in addition to their particular color. They are equipped with cyanophycin granules, a compound of reserve substances characterized by asparagine and arginine, amino acids present in equal quantities. We also remember that these bacteria have some special cells, the heterocysts, which are used to fix atmospheric nitrogen and therefore for nitrogen fixing, but also for the conversion of elemental nitrogen into ammonia.

Blue algae: species

So far the over two thousand species identified, they have been classified into five major systems, based on their shape, although there are some scholars who do not agree with the categorization made. All the blue algaeBeyond the species, they have no nucleus, they are in fact single-celled prokaryotic microorganisms, and have a gram-negative cell wall.

It is rare, however, to meet them as singles, because they tend to forming groups or real cell colonies of aggregation that end up creating filamentous structures, Sometimes they are branched, others not, and other times they form coenobia, or small permanent or temporary colonies.

Photosynthesis occurs in one thylakoid membrane, very important for the sustenance of these bacteria which, in this way, contribute to the formation of carbonate platforms because they subtract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, favoring the precipitation of calcium bicarbonate, thanks to photosynthesis.

Cyanophycin is not the only reserve substance that we find in blue algae, in fact there are also polyphosphates, in traces, which constitute a precious reserve of phosphorus and which we can also feel defined as volutin granules. We also don't forget the presence of starch.

To defend themselves from other unicellular algae, protozoa or potentially dangerous microorganisms, all blue algae of any species are able to produce cyanotoxins, real toxins that owe their name to cyanobacteria. We can find them in fish and shellfish and ingest them, and it would be dangerous because some of these toxins are fatal, such as BMMA, which is produced by blue algae belonging to the Nostoc genus.

Blue algae: use

Why so much attention to these "false" algae? Because they can be useful in some way. Some species of cyanobacteria, for example, such as Arthrospira platensis, Arthrospira maxima Kütz, they are grown for phytotherapeutic purposes. Once grown, picked and freeze-dried, they can be a good basis for preparing food supplements, as they contain a lot of protein. There Arthrospira platensis it is also particularly rich in mineral salts, vitamins and gamma-linolenic acid, as well as vitamin B12.

The species Arthrospira platensis, inserted in some supplements, it boasts antioxidant, immunostimulating and anticancer properties.

Blue algae: replication

How do algae like these "reproduce"? Curious to ask and even more curious is to discover the answer. Nothing spectacular, of course. Being prokaryotes, they have a asexual reproduction mechanism by fission. Among the factors that favor the replication of blue algae there are also the alkalinity of the water and the high temperatures, but this does not mean that we cannot find these algae in various places. They are ubiquitous aquatic organisms and therefore "live" in thermal or cold waters, whether they are sweet or salty.

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Video: What is Algae? Development, Types, Ecological Role (July 2022).


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