Q:

What are characteristics of a plant-like protists?

A:

Plant-like protists, which are also called green algae, resemble plants in having a cell wall, chlorophyll and the ability to carry out photosynthesis. They are a diverse group of four phyla, but all live in water and have similar mechanisms for movement and reproduction.

Green algae are unicellular protists with cell walls and photosynthetic organelles called chloroplasts. Their ability to extract energy from sunlight makes them primarily autotrophic, like plants, but in the dark they can switch over to heterotrophism and begin eating organic material near them. Algae typically have an eyespot, which they use to detect the presence or absence of light, and a true flagellum, which is used to actively propel them through the water. They differ from plants by making use of accessory pigments to absorb light, which gives them a wider range of light frequencies to use for energy than the monochromatic approach of green plants. The accessory pigments also give algal populations a range of colors; a bloom of algae can be green, brown or red. Plant-like protists constitute the base of aquatic food chains and, because of their broad range and high populations, they are responsible for over half of the photosynthesis that takes place on Earth.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the purpose of photosynthesis?

    A:

    Photosynthesis is a process that allows plants to harvest energy in sunlight and store it chemically, by producing sugars. Sugars hold energy in their molecular bonds; when the plant breaks down these bonds, energy is released that the organism can then use. Although green plants are the most famous photosynthesizing organisms, some bacteria, algae and protists carry out the process as well.

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  • Q:

    Where does the energy for photosynthesis originate?

    A:

    The energy required for photosynthesis comes from the sun as light energy; plants transform this light energy into chemical energy, or sugars. Plants perform this energy conversion using light, water, carbon dioxide and a green substance called chlorophyll. Photosynthesis takes place in a plant's leaves.

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    What types of organisms carry out photosynthesis?

    A:

    Photosynthesis is completed by many different organisms, ranging from plants to bacteria. Organisms that carry out photosynthesis are called photosynthetic.

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  • Q:

    What are the main characteristics of algae?

    A:

    Algae are any eukaryotes, other than plants, that conduct photosynthesis. They range from single-celled organisms to multicellular seaweeds over 180 feet in length with specialized organs. They are found in most environments, especially very wet ones, perhaps most notably the oceans, where they are the dominant producers.

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