Golden alga

Golden algae
Scientific classification

The golden algae or chrysophytes are a large group of heterokont algae, found mostly in freshwater. Originally they were taken to include all such forms except the diatoms and multicellular brown algae, but since then they have been divided into several different groups based on pigmentation and cell structure. They are now usually restricted to a core group of closely related forms, distinguished primarily by the structure of the flagella in motile cells, also treated as an order Chromulinales. It is possible membership will be revised further as more species are studied in detail. They come in a variety of morphological types, originally treated as separate orders or families.

Most members are unicellular flagellates, with either two visible flagella, as in Ochromonas, or sometimes one, as in Chromulina. The Chromulinales as first defined by Pascher in 1910 included only the latter type, with the former treated as the order Ochromonadales. However, structural studies have revealed that short second flagellum or at least a second basal body is always present, so this is no longer considered a valid distinction. Most of these have no cell covering. Some have loricae or shells, such as Dinobryon, which is sessile and grows in branched colonies. Most forms with silicaceous scales are now considered a separate group, the synurids, but a few belong among the Chromulinales proper, such as Paraphysomonas.

Some members are generally amoeboid, with long branching cell extensions, though they pass through flagellate stages as well. Chrysamoeba and Rhizochrysis are typical of these. There is also one species, Myxochrysis paradoxa, which has a complex life cycle involving a multinucleate plasmodial stage, similar to those found in slime moulds. These were originally treated as the order Chrysamoebales. The superficially similar Rhizochromulina was once included here, but is now given its own order based on differences in the structure of the flagellate stage.

Other members are non-motile. Cells may be naked and empeded in mucilage, such as Chrysosaccus, or coccoid and surrounded by a cell wall, as in Chrysosphaera. A few are filamentous or even parenchymatous in organization, such as Phaeoplaca. These were included in various older orders, most of the members of which are now included in separate groups. Hydrurus and its allies, freshwater genera which form branched gelatinous filaments, are often placed in the separate order Hydrurales but may belong


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