What are algae?
'Algae' are not one group: two species of algae may be less closely related to each other than are plants and animals, they are evolutionarily extremely diverse.
Algae carry out almost half of the photosynthesis on earth - they fix 105,000,000,000 metric tonnes of carbon per year, and produce every second breath of oxygen.
Algae are primary producers that support a diverse range of ecosystems: e.g. algae are essential to the growth of coral reefs, they form gigantic undersea kelp forests, and they dominate the marine phytoplankton.
Despite this incredible diversity and immense importance in ecosystem and planetary function, we know surprisingly little about algal diversity. Many algal species have not yet been discovered or named.
Phycology at RBGE
RBGE research addresses two different algal groups: the green algae and the diatoms. This research focuses on algal taxonomy and identification, systematics and the evolution of algal species. Our studies reach to the heart of fundamental concepts in biology: what a species is, and how species evolve - see Algal speciation.
For more information on our research, please visit our dedicated site: Algae World.