Golden Algae: Definition, Types, and Examples

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What is Golden Algae?

ETYMOLOGY The word chrysophyte comes from the Ancient Greek words khrusós, which means “gold,” and phyte, which means “plant.” Chrysomonads and golden-brown algae are synonyms.

Golden algae are algal species that are usually found in freshwater, according to phycology. The chrysophytes are another name for them. They pertain to the Chrysophyta phylum, which also includes xanthophytes (yellow-green algae) and diatoms. The golden algae belong to the class Chrysophyceae, which is a subset of the phylum.

They are primarily distinguished by the high concentration of the pigment fucoxanthin. As a result, their color ranges from brownish to golden brown. They’ve been flagellated in large numbers. Some, such like Chromulina sp., have only one flagellum. Ochromonas sp., for example, has two flagella.

Some chrysophytes, such as Chrysaccus sp., are non-motile despite being flagellated. There are amoeboid members of this class, like Chrysamoeba sp., who undergo flagellate stages also.

Golden Algae Classification

Chrysophytes belong to the Chrysophyceae family. The Phylum Chrysophyta includes the chrysophytes (Chrysophyceae), xanthophytes (Xanthophyceae), and diatoms (Bacillariophyceae), according to Pasher’s classification approach. Chrysophyceae is recognised as part of the Phylum Heterokontophyta and includes the orders Chromulinales, Chrysosphaerales, Hibberdiales, Hydrurales, Phaeothamnales, and yet-to-be-classified Chrysophyceae genera. It should be noted, however, that organisms’ taxonomic categorization is subject to change when further research into the species leads to the development of newer classification systems, such as those found in the NCBI taxonomy database.

Sub-groups: The taxonomic orders Chromulinales, Chrysosphaerales, Hibberdiales, Hydrurales, and Phaeothamniales make up the class Chrysophyceae.

Golden Algae Characteristic

The flagellar structure of Chrysophyceae algae distinguishes them from other algae families (although there are also species that are non-motile). The majority of them have two flagella. One possesses mastigonemes and is active. It is responsible for the forward movement. The smooth and passive flagellum is the other.

It’s pointing in the opposite direction. The presence of the pigment fucoxanthin is responsible for the golden color. They have a single-pored, globose statocyst (also called stomatocyst). The life cycle of some species, such as Myxochrysis paradoxa, is complicated. They have a plasmodial (amoeboid) stage additionally to the flagellate stage.

Golden Algae Evolution

Early algal species that had undergone endosymbiotic processes are thought to have developed into golden algae. Their capacity to photosynthesize may be owing to an endosymbiotic connection with cyanobacteria that contain fucoxanthin.

Golden Algae Importance

Freshwater algae make up the majority of the algae that make up the golden algae. They are typically found in rivers and lakes. Prymnesium parvum is a golden algal species linked to toxic algal blooms resulting from accelerated algal development. When the conditions favor rapid algal growth and reproduction, this species is known to create poisons that can harm fish. Nonetheless, there is no indication that golden algal toxins from dead fish eaten by humans or other mammals pose a direct harm to humans or other mammals.

Golden Algae Citations
  • Prymnesins: toxic metabolites of the golden alga, Prymnesium parvum Carter (Haptophyta). Mar Drugs . 2010 Mar 16;8(3):678-704. 
  • Reassessing the ichthyotoxin profile of cultured Prymnesium parvum (golden algae) and comparing it to samples collected from recent freshwater bloom and fish kill events in North America. Toxicon . 2010 Jun 15;55(7):1396-404.
  • Draft genome assembly and transcriptome sequencing of the golden algae Hydrurus foetidus (Chrysophyceae). F1000Res . 2019 Apr 8;8:401.
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