Chlamydomonas Ehrenberg   

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Chlorophyta – green algae
Class: Chlorophyceae
Order: Volvocales

British distribution (genus): Widespread, very common.
World distribution: Cosmopolitan.

A unicellular, motile, biflagellate green alga, oval to rounded in shape, depending on the species. Some possess an outer, gelatinous envelope. Details of biology and ultrastructure will be found in many textbooks, e.g. van den Hoek et al. (1995). The shape of the chloroplast and number and position of pyrenoids vary acording to species - that shown here has a cup-shaped chloroplast and a single, basal pyrenoid.

A large genus of several hundred species, mostly in freshwater but some in marine plankton and a number in soil. Different species can tolerate oligotrophic to eutrophic conditions, or even organic pollution. Terrestrial species can be resistant to dessication. C. nivalis is a famous cause of "red snow" in arctic or alpine locations and is known from late snow beds in the Cairgorm mountains in Scotland.

C. eugametos and C. reinhardtii are important experimental organisms used for a range of studies including molecular genetics and physiology.

Photograph of material in culture, 1998, species unnamed, possibly C. reinhardtii.

•   Hoek, C. van den, Mann, D.G., & Jahns, H.M., (1995), Algae: an introduction to phycology, Cambridge University Press.

© A.J. Silverside
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