Seaweeds are a crucial element in both human and animal food chains around the globe. Seaweeds are a very diverse selection of organisms, occupying a variety of ecological niches and uses. There are more than 10,000 species of seaweeds, all types of algae. Though they lack true roots and leaves, these multicellular organisms contain chlorophyll and produce energy through photosynthesis, as other plants do.
Seaweeds can be red, green, or brown algae. There are about 2,000 species of brown seaweeds (Rhaeophyta), including kelps and wracks. They thrive in cold oceans and can grow to be quite massive in size. Red seaweeds (Rhodophyta), which include dulce and Carrgeen moss, number about 6,500 species. They tend to be small and feathery in appearance and prefer warmer waters. Green seaweeds (Chlorophyta) include about 800 species, including sea lettuce. Green seaweeds grow in both cold and warm oceans. Most seaweeds grow in coastal areas, as deep seas provide insufficient light for photosynthesis to occur. They attach themselves to rock or other hard substrata using a rootlike part called a holdfast.
Seaweeds are the basis for most oceanic food chains and provide important habitat for marine life. Sea horses, for example, cling to seaweeds to compensate for their poor swimming ability. Seaweeds are also a valuable food for human life. Containing many vitamins and minerals, seaweeds are an important staple of diets in Japan and China.
Seaweeds are also used in cutting-edge industrial applications. Red seaweeds are a source of agar, which is used as a culture medium to study microorganisms. Seaweeds are also commonly-used fertilizers for terrestrial crops.
Seaweeds List –