Did you know that the toothpaste you use this morning contains algae extract? I guess you probably didn't check the ingredients on the cover. And the ice cream you ate at the mall. Lol, this is not a joke but it's funny in the sense that almost everything we apply to our skin and consume contains algae; something we don't pay attention to in life. There are a lot of products we use that come from algae which we don't notice. The economic importance of algae is very huge and will save our world if we pay much attention to it. There are currently 1000s of people all over the world, exploring algae products and trying to build a better government. What are we also producing from these eukaryotes to enrich our motherland, Ghana? So, in this article, we will be looking at the various types of algae and their usefulness to humanity. So friends, let's explore together.
WHAT ARE ALGAE?
Take note of this, an alga is a singular form while algae is a plural form. The name algae refer to multiple independent plant-like organisms dwelling both in water and on land. Algae occur as single-celled or multi-celled organisms that rely on photosynthesis for survival. They are found in both fresh and saltwater environments, algae are also seen on moist rocks or soil. In a symbiotic relationship, algae also arise on the skin of the tree sloth, which aids in its camouflage, and on the skins of fish and aquatic or semi-aquatic reptiles. Likewise plants, these organisms contain Chlorophyll and other natural pigments that act as a primary coloring tool and also help in absorbing energy from light. However, algae are neither bacteria nor plants. They don't share a common ancestor and hence are not related to each other. Algae are not plants because they don't have true roots, stems, and leaves. In other words, they do not acquire vascular tissue essential for the conduction of water and minerals. That is why they only survive in a watery environment.
Well-known types of algae.
Algae are classified into the following types.
let explain it one by one.
The scientific name of Red Algae is Rhodophyta and they belong to Class Rhodophyceae. There are two classifications of red algal namely the Florideophyceae and Bangiophyceae. Both Florideophyceae and Bangiophyceae comprise 99% of the red algal variety in aquatic and freshwater environments.
Red alga is a particular type of species that are mostly found in freshwater lakes and is the oldest type of eukaryotic algae. They are red due to the presence of a pigment called chlorophyll A, phycocyanin, and phycoerythrin. They are a unique type of species, mostly found in deep freshwater bodies.
Green alga is a large, informal grouping of algae having the primary photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll.
higher organisms use green algae to conduct photosynthesis for them. Other species of green algae have a symbiotic relationship with other organisms.
Members are unicellular, multicellular, colonial, and flagellates. Prominent examples of green algae include Spirogyra, Volvox, and many more.
Year's back, blue-green algae were one of the most well-known types of algae. However, since blue-green algae are prokaryotes, they are not presently included under algae because all algae are categorized as eukaryotic organisms.
Blue-green alga also called cyanobacteria, these organisms live in moist or aquatic environments just like other algae. These include dams, rivers, pools, brooks, ponds, and oceans. This class of bacteria derives energy through the process of photosynthesis. Ecologically, some species of blue-green algae are significant to the environment as it fixes the nitrogen in the soil. Hence, these are also called nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
However, other types of blue-green algae can be toxic to human beings. They can either be neurotoxic which affects the respiratory or nervous system, causing paralysis, or hepatotoxic (which causes the liver to fail). Moreover, some can act as indicators of environmental health, giving a sign of the magnitude of pollution. What we've talked about so far on Algae is just a preface to understanding the main motive behind this piece.
BENEFICIAL ALGAE IN DAILY LIFE.
There are a lot of products of algae you never knew you were using. Algae are found in almost every aspect of life, from the environment to industries, to agriculture, and to health care. Let's take it one by one. Starting with health care.
THE USE OF ALGAE IN HEALTH CARE.
There are different types of algae products that help cure diseases and mostly fall under the category of nutraceuticals. It looks as though every day we are introduced to a new health term. So, what are nutraceuticals? Nutraceutical is used to clarify any product that is developed from food sources that offer other health benefits in addition to the nutritional value of the food including the prevention and treatment of diseases. It Is derived from "nutrition" and pharmaceutical. Although nutraceutical is not directly operated by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) because of some controversy. Moving on, we all know that algae are the base of the food chain for fish and other aquatic organisms. To explain, microscopic algae called phytoplankton form the base of the ocean's food web. Phytoplankton feeds smaller fish and crustaceans, which in turn feed larger species. This continues up the food chain to the largest predators and even humans, who also eat algae indirectly from aquatic organisms. For example, the omega-3 fatty oils we consume are obtained from algae, not fish. Fish consume these algae and then weigh high amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid( DHA) in their tissues. Because of that, fishes become the source of Omega 3s but the fishes themselves don't produce it.
lol, l can see the pronunciation of the words want to play a game with you but let's break them down into three. That is, do-cosa-hexanoic and ei-Cosa-pentaenoic. Going on, the Omega 3's that is collected from fishes can directly be obtained from Algae. Most importantly, these Omega 3 boosts fatty acid balance, immunity, improve nervous system tasks, cardiovascular function, body composition, and insulin sensitivity, and more.
In history, algae were used as herbal medicine to treat ailments like hypertension, sunstroke, cough, gout, and intestinal conditions. With the help of modern biotechnology, antibiotics have been extracted from a wide species of algae each having a distinct chemical exertion. A recent study focuses on the use of algae as anti-cancer drugs in cancer treatment.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ALGAE IN AGRICULTURE.
Agriculture involves the farming of animals and plants. Agriculture is very huge and all the different aspect of it falls one way or another under growing of plants and rearing of animals. So, we will restrict ourselves to only algae animal feeds and algae fertilizers.
Starting with Algae fertilizer, algae are living organisms and its fertilizer is purely organic and excellent to help grow crops efficiently. The need for the use of algae fertilizers is of a reason which is increased usage of chemical fertilizers leads to damage in soil texture and puts up other environmental dangers. But algae fix nitrogen and increase the water-binding capacity of the soil, especially in rice cultivation.
Second, Algae animal feeds. Algae are high protein, nutritious, natural, and a low-cost food alternative for animals, that can replace the existing expensive grains that are fed to animals. Algae animal feed is used for feeding livestock such as cattle, chickens, horses, goats, and sheep. Looking at the economic and food crises over the world especially in Ghana. collecting algae can be used as a good option to manufacture animal feed. Feeding animals with algae will not only save money but also save a large area of agricultural land and water reserves.
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS OF ALGAE.
Algae play an important role in industries. In the food industry, the alga is utilized as a gelatin alternate in the manufacture of sauces, mayonnaise, custards, and processed cheese. Also, it is used to solidify jams and ice creams and as an anti-drying agent in pastries. In cosmetics, algae extract is used in the manufacture of lipsticks, nail polish, body lotions, shampoos, and shaving creams.
In the production of plastics, algae act as a great material for bio-plastic. Bio-plastics are made from renewable biomass such as starches and vegetable lubricant unlike fossil-fuel plastics made from nonrenewable sources. However, algae bioplastics are particularly produced as a by-product of algae fuel manufacturing.
EFFECT OF ALGAE ON THE ENVIRONMENT.
Algae, like other plants, produce a category of compounds known as secondary metabolites. They are synthesized by these organisms at the end of the growth level or due to metabolic changes induced by environmental stress conditions. Carotenoids, polysaccharides, and unsaturated fatty acids are the same as the algal natural products, which were revealed to have variable biological activities, comprising antioxidant activity, anticancer activity, antimicrobial activity against bacteria-virus-algae-fungi, and organic fertilizer.
HOW ALGAE CAN BE A HELPING HAND IN SOLVING THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IN GHANA.
People are quick to mention poverty, unemployment whenever economic challenges are raised in Ghana, without much focus on our industries, natural resources, environment, and most importantly agriculture. Look at our fuel prices in Ghana, prices of food, and prices of medications. It's a high time we rise as a country to manage our economy with the available resources we have at hand. Generating fuels from algae will help reduce fuel prices, relying on nutraceuticals instead of chemical drugs will reduce the whooping scope in pharmaceuticals. Using algae as fertilizers will preserve our land's generational use. About 60% of the Ghanaian population is in agriculture of which 50% are subsistence farmers who grow crops and rear animals just to feed their families and themselves because of the high cost of animal feeds, fertilizers, and the negative effect of chemicals on crops yields. In a nutshell, we can make Ghana a better country if we all see the benefits of algae in our various spaces.
1.Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae. Michael Briggs, University of New Hampshire, Physics Department
2.Robert A.Andersen. Director, Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Coeditor of Chrysophytes: Aspects and Problems.http://www.britannica.com>science>algae
Last Updated: May 7, 2021 See Article History.
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