From Academic Kids
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Pacific Rockweed (Fucus distichus)
in Olympic National Park
The brown algae or phaeophytes are a large group of multicellular algae, including many notable seaweeds. They play an important role in marine environments. For instance kelp, some of which may reach 60 metres in length, form prominent underwater forests. Another notable example is Sargassum, which creates unique habitats in the Sargasso Sea. Many brown algae, such as bladder wrack, are found along the seashore and some are used as food.
Brown algae belong to a large group called the heterokonts, most of which are colored flagellates. Most contain the pigment fucoxanthin, which is responsible for the distinctive greenish-brown color that gives brown algae their name. Brown algae are unique in developing into multicellular forms with differentiated tissues, but they reproduce by means of flagellate spores, which closely resemble other heterokont cells. Genetic studies show their closest relatives are the yellow-green algae.