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What are the algae?


Algae are photosynthetic plant organisms that do not have stems, leaves, roots and do not form seeds, flowers or fruits like higher plants. On the contrary, they have a primitive organization, very simple in the lower taxonomic groups, more complex in the upper classes. They form spores instead of seeds. Some have complex biological cycles (life cycles). They are very different from Spermatophyta, both on land and sea, those that most people wrongly call “algae”.


In terms of morphology, there is an excellent variety. There are simple unicellular forms, colonial, microscopic, filamentous to complex, branched or not. Some look like tiny shrubs, with bunches of grapes, others look like leaves, net, pipes, etc. There are tiny algae, invisible to the naked eye, such as those involved in phytoplankton, collectively called microalgae.


Others are visible to the naked eye, what we see as thallus, or even large dimensions that reach several meters in length, such as the big Phaeophytes, that we collectively call macrophytes. Microscopic ones are the Diatoms, Pyrrophyta, several Chlorophyta, a few Rhodophyta, and some less known groups. One particular group is the prokaryotes of Cyanophyta (all algae groups belong to eukaryotic organisms), which are currently classified in photosynthetic bacteria and are called Cyanobacteria. Representatives with bigger dimensions are mainly Ochrophyta and Rhodophyta and a few Chlorophyta.


What is the importance of algae?


The importance of algae for humans and life on the planet is enormous, but unfortunately very little is known to the general public. Examples include the following:


1. 60% of the oxygen released in nature comes from algae (and especially from the tiny algae that make up the phytoplankton / microflora).
2. A wide range of everyday products (toothpaste, cosmetics, etc.) contain algae derivatives.
3. They have many applications in medicine and pharmacy.
4. They are used as food supplements for humans and in aquaculture.
5. They can be used for the purification of waste water and are biomarkers of the ecological status of the aquatic environment.


Algae can be cultivated?


Utilizing appropriate technology, the algae can grow and reproduce in (semi-) controlled conditions or environmental conditions very quickly, faster than any other terrestrial plant.

Algae can be grown in land plants (tanks, ponds), in closed bioreactors or in the sea (only for macrophytes), using light, carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients. This can help mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and liquid waste when algae biomass is converted into food, biofuel or other useful raw material.



Algal collections


Below are the collections of unialgal cultures in Greek institutions. The purpose of this page is to provide information on available cultures so as to enable cooperation between different institutions and exchange of cultures.


A) Collection of micro- and macroalgae of the Department of Botany, Department of Biology, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens.

The Botanical Laboratory operates a chamber where the following algae are kept under controlled temperature and lighting conditions:


Schizocladiophyceae
Schizocladia ischiensis

Ochrophyta
Chorda tomentosa, Dictyota phlyctaenodes, Distromium sp., Ectocarpus siliculosus, Halopteris congesta, Halopteris paniculata, Hincksia mitchelliae, Macrocystis pyrifera (male and fimale gemetophytes), Microzonia velutina, Sphacelaria radicans, Sphacelaria rigidula (male and female gametophytes), Splachnidium rugosum, Syringoderma phinneyi, Tilopteris mertensii

Chlorophyta
Klebsormidium flaccidum, Klebsormidium subtile, Klebsormidium subtillissimum, Spirogyra sp., Stichococcus bacillaris


Collection’s supervisor:
Professor Emeritus Dr. Christos Katsaros
Laboratory of Botany, Department of Biology,
University of Athens, 157 84, Athens,
Tel. 2107274652, Fax: 2107274702
e-mail: ckatsaro@biol.uoa.gr


Β) Collection of micro- and macroalgae of the Fisheries Research Institute (HAO-DEMETER).

Benthic Ecology & Technology Laboratory has constant lighting and temperature culture rooms, where indigenous of the Greek coast micro- and macroalgae species / strains are cultivated:


Chlorophyta
Cladophora glomerata, Ulva sp., Bryopsis sp., Haematococcus pluvialis, Chlorella vulgaris (Northern Europe)

Rhodophyta
Ceramium sp., Chondracanthus teedii, Falkenbergia rufolanosa, Gracilaria sp., Gracilaria bursa – pastoris, Gracilariοpsis vermicularis, Polysiphonia sp., Porphyra olivii, Sphaerococcus coronopifolius

Phaeophyta
Dictyota spiralis


Collection’s supervisor:
Dr. Sotiris Orfanidis
Fisheries Research Institute, 64007 Nea Peramos, Kavala
Tel.: 25940 29039, Fax: 25940 22222
email: sorfanid@inale.gr