Biodiversity and application of microalgae
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- Metting, F.B. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology (1996) 17: 477. doi:10.1007/BF01574779
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The algae are a polyphyletic, artificial assemblage of O2-evolving, photosynthetic organisms (and secondarily nonphotosynthetic evolutionary descendants) that includes seaweeds (macroalgae) and a highly diverse group of microorganisms known as microalgae. Phycology, the study of algae, developed historically as a discipline focused on the morphological, physiological and ecological similarities of the subject organisms, including the prokaryotic bluegreen algae (cyanobacteria) and prochlorophytes. Eukaryotic algal groups represent at least five distinct evolutionary lineages, some of which include protists traditionally recognized as fungi and protozoa. Ubiquitous in marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats and possessing broad biochemical diversity, the number of algal species has been estimated at between one and ten million, most of which are microalgae. The implied biochemical diversity is the basis for many biotechnological and industrial applications.