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Difference Between Algae and Plants

Algae vs Plants

Plant is a very broad name that encompasses many subfamilies and phyla. According to biology, plants are even recognized as a kingdom (specifically Kingdom Plantae, opposite that of Kingdom Animalia) in the biologic taxonomical arrangement. This places plants on top of other divisions. Conversely, algae was formerly one of the many sub branches that fall under the plant kingdom. But today, although algae are still technically plants, the classification of algae is so contested that some algae groups were moved into a separate grouping.

One of the primary differences between algae and plants is that the latter have connective tissues that serve to transport nutrients and water throughout the entire body of the plant. In the case of the algae, each individual cell is responsible for absorbing its own water. This makes the algae nonvascular compared to the highly vascular plant species. In this connection, algae also lack several key structures that are normally present in ordinary plants like the leaves, roots and stem. The absence of these structures further reaffirms the nonvascular nature of algae. Furthermore, this is exactly the reason why many algae are nowadays not described as plants. They are now grouped in their own known loose groups or phyla.

Although algae can still possess a multitude if cells, the typical algae like the green alga is a single-celled organism. This makes it a simpler entity compared to multi-cellular plant organisms that have chloroplasts, are able to create embryos and whose cells have cellulose walls. On top of these characteristics they obviously lack the capability of locomotion.

With regard to their place of growth, the majority of algae usually thrive underwater though there can be some types that can live on land and even on snow. Algae just use the minerals found in the water to produce their own food for survival. Plants, on the contrary, mostly thrive on land because they use the natural sunlight and carbon dioxide to keep some of its most important biologic processes going on.

In addition, the mode of reproduction or the reproduction system itself is more complex in plants compared to the more primitive counterpart in the algae.

Although both algae and plants are photosynthetic in nature and are classified as eukaryotes (have highly differentiated cells that contain specialized structures like the nucleus), the two still differ in the following aspects:

1. Algae can either be unicellular and multi-cellular while plants are multi-cellular organisms.

2. Algae typically live underwater while plants thrive on land.

3. Algae are nonvascular. They don’t have structures such as connective tissues, leaves, stems and roots unlike plants.

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  2. Algae are NOT technically plants! There is no contention in their classification as protists.

  3. Thanks, it was really helpfull!!

  4. Would you consider algae to be logical in a “plant” based diet? I find mushrooms/fungi to behave more like animals, they are not photosynthetic, they get nutrients from plants, just like the heterotrophic animals.

  5. Algae are not plants and not all plants are vascular.

  6. But moss is a plant and does not have vascular tissue(roots, stems and leaves). As far as I have read, it is the protective coating on the female gamete that makes it a plant and not an alga. Am I wrong?

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