Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

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Algae vs Seagrass

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A comparison of algal morphology with seagrass morphology:   Note that algae are relatively simple and unspecialized in structure, possessing only a tough holdfast that assists in anchoring it to a hard substratum. Seagrasses are more closely related to terrestrial plants and, like terrestrial plants, possess specialized tissues that perform specific tasks within each plant. Seagrasses possess true roots that not only hold plants in place, but also are specialized for extracting minerals and other nutrients from the sediment. All algal cells possess photosynthetic structures capable of utilizing sunlight to produce chemical energy. In seagrasses, however, chloroplasts occur only in leaves, thus confining photosynthesis to leaves. Further, algae are able to take up minerals and other nutrients directly from the water column via diffusion. Finally, while most algae lack specialized reproductive structures, most seagrasses have separate sexes and produce flowers and seeds, with embryos developing inside ovaries.  

Report by: K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station
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Page last updated: July 25, 2001

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