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"How Does Seaweed Conduct Photosynthesis?"
This green pigment captures sunlight for photosynthesis (a process that uses sunlight to produce food). Most of the seaweeds that you see on the beach are brown seaweed.
Applications of a Commercial Extract of the Brown Seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum Increases Drought Tolerance in Container-grown ‘Hamlin’ Sweet Orange Nursery Trees
The Phaeophyceae or brown algae ..
Brown algae are found in the class Phaeophyceae and a vast majority of the known species lives in saltwater. A lot of the seaweeds that grows in the cool waters of the Northern Hemisphere are a part of this class, e.g. kelp and the members of the genus Sargassum, but you can also find brown algae in tropical waters. The largest forms are however only found in cool waters. Brown algae are always multicellular, never unicellular or colonial. They have a large surface area since this makes the process of absorbing nutrients from the water more efficient.
Brown algae might look similar to land plants, but there are many notable differences. Land living plants typically use chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b to carry out photosynthesis, while brown algae relay on chlorophyll c and have cells containing fucoxanthin. The pigment fucoxanthin is what gives the brown algae their greenish-brown colour.
Generally speaking, brown algae grow attached to a surface, such as a rock or a cliff, instead of drifting around in the water. Many species will grow from the ocean floor until they reaches the surface. The largest species of the genus Macrocystis can exceed 60 meters (200 feet) in length. The smallest ones are microscopic and may grow as epiphytes on underwater vegetation. (An epiphyte is an organism that grows upon or attached to a living plant.)
Brown algae is not only a valuable source of food for may species, they can also dominate an ecosystem by forming large underwater forests, e.g. the famous kelp forests primarily found in polar and temperate costal waters. The legendary Sargasso Sea in the middle of the North Atlantic is characterized by the presence of brown algae from the genus Sargassum that floats en masse on the surface.
Brown algae have developed to fit into a wide range of habitats and ecological niches and are for instance found in rock pools, in the intertidal zones and in the turbulent tidal splash zone. Brown algae living in coastal environments subjected to tidal movements will survive being regularly exposed to air. Brown algae is also known to appreciate the environment formed by nutrient rich cold water up wellings and inflows from land.
Some species of brown algae use floatation bladders to keep their blades close to the surface of the water, since they wish to absorb as much light as possible. The floatation bladders are filled with gas to keep them afloat and this gas can be toxic to humans.
The oldest examples of fossilized brown algae date back to the Mesozoic Era (251 to 180 million years ago), but they might have been around during the Jurassic Period as well (200 to 145 million years ago). Since brown algae tend to be soft, fossils are rare.
Alaska to central California
is a saxicolous (grows on rocks) brown seaweed from the lower intertidal zone to subtidal regions, where its highly branched but not particularly large holdfast secures the thallus in surf-prone areas. It has a single, quarter inch diameter stipe up to 3 inches long that supports two kinds of blades, a single vegetative blade and sporophylls. Running the length of the vegetative blade, which may reach 10 or more feet, is a thick, flattened midrib, usually colored lighter, more golden, than the wider but thinner “ribbons”. Projecting from opposite sides of the stipe are much smaller spore-producing wing-like blades, the sporophylls, which can be seen in the second picture. Each sporophyll has its own secondary stipe that supports its relatively thick, rather elliptical blade. You can see the sporophylls in the picture to the far right at the base of the alga
and thus receives more light for photosynthesis.
Aleutian Islands, Alaska to central California
is the most impressive brown seaweed in the Pacific Northwest. The genus name comes from Nereidos, the name of a sea nymph from Greek mythology, and from “kytos”, Greek for a hollow vessel. There is only one species. This seaweed often grows in “beds”, that is dense assemblages, often in rather protected waters, but sometimes along the highly energetic outer coast. We don’t find it growing much between the capes, but we do see it washed up on our beaches in massive tangled windrows after it has been torn from rocks during winter storms. consist of a holdfast, a long, tapering, hollow stipe that can reach more than 100 feet, a terminal gas-filled floating bulb, the pneumatocysts, and the attached blades. The anchoring holdfast can reach a diameter of more that a foot. It can harbor its own collection of organisms by offering them protection among the haptera. The pneumatocyst and the expanded hollow part of the stipe serve as a float to keep the alga vertical. The blades branch off the pneumatocyst in two cliusters of up to 30 blades each. These blades, which hang down from the floating pneumatocyst like curtains, contain spore-forming cells arranged in patches called sori. Interestingly, the sori are released from the blades during the autum at specific times of the day and tidal cycle, and they sink to the bottom where the spores are released to develop into gametophytes.
There are numerous other interesting aspects to this kelp. The gasses in the pneumatocyst includes up to 12 percent carbon monoxide (the same poisonous gas released by automobile exhaust), in addition to nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide found in air. is an extremely fast growing kelp. It is an annual with some individuals persisting over the winter. But it reaches its full size within its first year, growing over 5 inches per day. The shape of the blade can be determined by the amount of current in which the kelp lives. Narrow, flat blades with less drag develop where there is fast current; ruffled blades that spread out develop in slower currents.
" Applications of a Commercial Extract of the Brown Seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum Increases Drought Tolerance in Container-grown ‘Hamlin’ Sweet Orange Nursery Trees "
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