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Am J Bot. 2004 Oct;91(10):1508-22. doi: 10.3732/ajb.91.10.1508.

Biology and systematics of heterokont and haptophyte algae.

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Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, P.O. Box 475, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04575 USA.


In this paper, I review what is currently known of phylogenetic relationships of heterokont and haptophyte algae. Heterokont algae are a monophyletic group that is classified into 17 classes and represents a diverse group of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial algae. Classes are distinguished by morphology, chloroplast pigments, ultrastructural features, and gene sequence data. Electron microscopy and molecular biology have contributed significantly to our understanding of their evolutionary relationships, but even today class relationships are poorly understood. Haptophyte algae are a second monophyletic group that consists of two classes of predominately marine phytoplankton. The closest relatives of the haptophytes are currently unknown, but recent evidence indicates they may be part of a large assemblage (chromalveolates) that includes heterokont algae and other stramenopiles, alveolates, and cryptophytes. Heterokont and haptophyte algae are important primary producers in aquatic habitats, and they are probably the primary carbon source for petroleum products (crude oil, natural gas).

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