|Kingdom:|| Plantae |
Plants are the eukaryotes that form the kingdom Plantae; they are predominantly photosynthetic. This means that they obtain their energy from sunlight, using chloroplasts derived from endosymbiosis with cyanobacteria to produce sugars from carbon dioxide and water, using the green pigment chlorophyll. Exceptions are parasitic plants that have lost the genes for chlorophyll and photosynthesis, and obtain their energy from other plants or fungi.
Historically, as in Aristotle's biology, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi. Definitions have narrowed since then; current definitions exclude the fungi and some of the algae. By the definition used in this article, plants form the clade Viridiplantae (green plants), which consists of the green algae and the embryophytes or land plants (hornworts, liverworts, mosses, lycophytes, ferns, conifers and other gymnosperms, and flowering plants). A definition based on genomes includes the Viridiplantae, along with the red algae and the glaucophytes, in the clade Archaeplastida.
There are about 380,000 known species of plants, of which the majority, some 260,000, produce seeds. They range in size from single cells to the tallest trees. Green plants provide a substantial proportion of the world's molecular oxygen; the sugars they create supply the energy for most of Earth's ecosystems; other organisms, including animals, either consume plants directly or rely on organisms which do so.
Grain, fruit, and vegetables are basic human foods and have been domesticated for millennia. People use plants for many purposes, such as building materials, ornaments, writing materials, and, in great variety, for medicines. The scientific study of plants is known as botany, a branch of biology.
All living things were traditionally placed into one of two groups, plants and animals. This classification dates from Aristotle (384–322 BC), who distinguished different levels of beings in his biology, based on whether living things had a "sensitive soul" or like plants only a "vegetative soul". Theophrastus, Aristotle's student, continued his work in plant taxonomy and classification. Much later, Linnaeus (1707–1778) created the basis of the modern system of scientific classification, but retained the animal and plant kingdoms, naming the plant kingdom the Vegetabilia.
When the name Plantae or plant is applied to a specific group of organisms or taxa, it usually refers to one of four concepts. From least to most inclusive, these four groupings are:
|Land plants, also known as Embryophyta||Plantae sensu strictissimo||Multicellular||Plants in the strictest sense include liverworts, hornworts, mosses, and vascular plants, as well as fossil plants similar to these surviving groups (e.g., Metaphyta Whittaker, 1969, Plantae Margulis, 1971 ).|
|Green plants, also known as Viridiplantae , Viridiphyta, Chlorobionta or Chloroplastida||Plantae sensu stricto||Some unicellular, some multicellular||Plants in a strict sense include the green algae, and land plants that emerged within them, including stoneworts. The relationships between plant groups are still being worked out, and the names given to them vary considerably. The clade Viridiplantae encompasses a group of organisms that have cellulose in their cell walls, possess chlorophylls a and b and have plastids bound by only two membranes that are capable of photosynthesis and of storing starch. This clade is the main subject of this article (e.g., Plantae Copeland, 1956 ).|
|Archaeplastida, also known as Plastida or Primoplantae||Plantae sensu lato||Some unicellular, some multicellular||Plants in a broad sense comprise the green plants listed above plus the red algae (Rhodophyta) and the glaucophyte algae (Glaucophyta) that store Floridean starch outside the plastids, in the cytoplasm. This clade includes all of the organisms that eons ago acquired their primary chloroplasts directly by engulfing cyanobacteria (e.g., Plantae Cavalier-Smith, 1981 ).|
|Old definitions of plant (obsolete)||Plantae sensu amplo||Some unicellular, some multicellular||Plants in the widest sense included the unrelated groups of algae, fungi and bacteria on older, obsolete classifications (e.g. Plantae or Vegetabilia Linnaeus 1751, Plantae Haeckel 1866, Metaphyta Haeckel, 1894, Plantae Whittaker, 1969 ).|
There are about 382,000 accepted species of plants,of which the great majority, some 283,000, produce seeds. The table below shows some species count estimates of different green plant (Viridiplantae) divisions. About 85–90% of all plants are flowering plants. Several projects are currently attempting to collect records on all plant species in online databases, e.g. the World Flora Online.
Plants range in scale from single-celled organisms such as desmids (from 10 micrometres across) and picozoa (less than 3 micrometres across), 380 feet (120 m) tall ) and the angiosperm Eucalyptus regnans (up to 325 feet (99 m) tall ).to the largest trees (megaflora) such as the conifer Sequoia sempervirens (up to
|Informal group||Division name||Common name||No. of described living species|
|Green algae||Chlorophyta||Green algae (chlorophytes)||3800–4300|
|Charophyta||Green algae (e.g. desmids & stoneworts)||2800–6000|
|Polypodiophyta||Ferns, whisk ferns & horsetails||11000|
| Spermatophytes |
The naming of plants is governed by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plantsand the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants.
The ancestors of land plants evolved in water. An algal scum formed on the land, but it was not until the Ordovician, around , that the first land plants appeared, with a level of organisation like that of bryophytes. However, evidence from carbon isotope ratios in Precambrian rocks suggests that complex plants developed over 1000 mya.
Primitive land plants began to diversify in the late Silurian, around. Bryophytes, club mosses, and ferns then appear in the fossil record. Early plant anatomy is preserved in cellular detail in an early Devonian fossil assemblage from the Rhynie chert. These early plants were preserved by being petrified in chert formed in silica-rich volcanic hot springs.
By the end of the Devonian, most of the basic features of plants today were present, including roots, leaves and secondary wood in trees such as Archaeopteris .The Carboniferous Period saw the development of forests in swampy environments dominated by clubmosses and horsetails, including some as large as trees, and the appearance of early gymnosperms, the first seed plants. The Permo-Triassic extinction event radically changed the structures of communities. This may have set the scene for the evolution of flowering plants in the Triassic (~ ), with an adaptive radiation in the Cretaceous so rapid that Darwin called it an "abominable mystery". Conifers diversified from the Late Triassic onwards, and became a dominant part of floras in the Jurassic.
In 2019, a phylogeny based on genomes and transcriptomes from 1,153 plant species was proposed.The placing of algal groups is supported by phylogenies based on genomes from the Mesostigmatophyceae and Chlorokybophyceae that have since been sequenced. Both the "chlorophyte algae" and the "streptophyte algae" are treated as paraphyletic (vertical bars beside phylogenetic tree diagram) in this analysis, as the land plants arose from within those groups. The classification of Bryophyta is supported both by Puttick et al. 2018, and by phylogenies involving the hornwort genomes that have also since been sequenced.
Plant cells have distinctive features that other eukaryotic cells (such as those of animals) lack. These include the large water-filled central vacuole, chloroplasts, and the strong flexible cell wall, which is outside the cell membrane. Chloroplasts are derived from what was once a symbiosis of a non-photosynthetic cell and photosynthetic cyanobacteria. The cell wall, made mostly of cellulose, allows plant cells to swell up with water without bursting. The vacuole allows the cell to change in size while the amount of cytoplasm stays the same.
Most plants are multicellular. Plant cells differentiate into multiple cell types, forming tissues such as the vascular tissue with specialized xylem and phloem of leaf veins and stems, and organs with different physiological functions such as roots to absorb water and minerals, stems for support and to transport water and synthesized molecules, leaves for photosynthesis, and flowers for reproduction.
Plants photosynthesize, manufacturing food molecules (sugars) using energy obtained from light. Plant cells contain chlorophylls inside their chloroplasts, which are green pigments that are used to capture light energy. The end-to-end chemical equation for photosynthesis is:
This causes plants to release oxygen into the atmosphere. Green plants provide a substantial proportion of the world's molecular oxygen, alongside the contributions from photosynthetic algae and cyanobacteria.
Plants that have secondarily adopted a parasitic lifestyle may lose the genes involved in photosynthesis and the production of chlorophyll.
Growth is determined by the interaction of a plant's genome with its physical and biotic environment.Factors of the physical or abiotic environment include temperature, water, light, carbon dioxide, and nutrients in the soil. Biotic factors that affect plant growth include crowding, grazing, beneficial symbiotic bacteria and fungi, and attacks by insects or plant diseases.
Frost and dehydration can damage or kill plants. Some plants have antifreeze proteins, heat-shock proteins and sugars in their cytoplasm that enable them to tolerate these stresses.Plants are continuously exposed to a range of physical and biotic stresses which cause DNA damage, but they can tolerate and repair much of this damage.
Plants reproduce to generate offspring, whether sexually, involving gametes, or asexually, involving ordinary growth. Many plants use both mechanisms.
When reproducing sexually, plants have complex lifecycles involving alternation of generations. One generation, the sporophyte, which is diploid (with 2 sets of chromosomes), gives rise to the next generation, the gametophyte, which is haploid (with one set of chromosomes). Some plants also reproduce asexually via spores. In some non-flowering plants such as mosses, the sexual gametophyte forms most of the visible plant.In seed plants (gymnosperms and flowering plants), the sporophyte forms most of the visible plant, and the gametophyte is very small. Flowering plants reproduce sexually using flowers, which contain male and female parts: these may be within the same (hermaphrodite) flower, on different flowers on the same plant, or on different plants. The pollen produces male gametes that enter the ovule to fertilize the egg cell of the female gametophyte. Fertilization takes place within the carpels or ovaries, which develop into fruits that contain seeds. Fruits may be dispersed whole, or they may split open and the seeds dispersed individually.
Plants reproduce asexually by growing any of a wide variety of structures capable of growing into new plants. At the simplest, plants such as mosses or liverworts may be broken into pieces, each of which may regrow into whole plants. The propagation of flowering plants by cuttings is a similar process. Structures such as runners enable plants to grow to cover an area, forming a clone. Many plants grow food storage structures such as tubers or bulbs which may each develop into a new plant.
Some non-flowering plants, such as many liverworts, mosses and some clubmosses, along with a few flowering plants, grow small clumps of cells called gemmae which can detach and grow.
Plants use pattern-recognition receptors to recognize pathogens such as bacteria that cause plant diseases. This recognition triggers a protective response. The first such plant receptors were identified in riceand in Arabidopsis thaliana .
Plants have some of the largest genomes among all organisms.The largest plant genome (in terms of gene number) is that of wheat (Triticum aestivum), predicted to encode ≈94,000 genes and thus almost 5 times as many as the human genome. The first plant genome sequenced was that of Arabidopsis thaliana which encodes about 25,500 genes. In terms of sheer DNA sequence, the smallest published genome is that of the carnivorous bladderwort (Utricularia gibba) at 82 Mb (although it still encodes 28,500 genes) while the largest, from the Norway spruce (Picea abies), extends over 19.6 Gb (encoding about 28,300 genes).
Plants are distributed almost worldwide. While they inhabit several biomes which can be divided into a multitude of ecoregions,only the hardy plants of the Antarctic flora, consisting of algae, mosses, liverworts, lichens, and just two flowering plants, have adapted to the prevailing conditions on that southern continent.
Plants are often the dominant physical and structural component of the habitats where they occur. Many of the Earth's biomes are named for the type of vegetation because plants are the dominant organisms in those biomes, such as grassland, savanna, and tropical rainforest.
The photosynthesis conducted by land plants and algae is the ultimate source of energy and organic material in nearly all ecosystems. Photosynthesis, at first by cyanobacteria and later by photosynthetic eukaryotes, radically changed the composition of the early Earth's anoxic atmosphere, which as a result is now 21% oxygen. Animals and most other organisms are aerobic, relying on oxygen; those that do not are confined to relatively rare anaerobic environments. Plants are the primary producers in most terrestrial ecosystems and form the basis of the food web in those ecosystems. 450 gigatonnes (4.4×1011 long tons; 5.0×1011 short tons) of carbon.Plants form about 80% of the world biomass at about
Numerous animals have coevolved with plants; flowering plants have evolved pollination syndromes, suites of flower traits that favour their reproduction. Many, including insect and bird partners, are pollinators, visiting flowers and accidentally transferring pollen in exchange for food in the form of pollen or nectar.
Many animals disperse seeds that are adapted for such dispersal. Various mechanisms of dispersal have evolved. Some fruits offer nutritious outer layers attractive to animals, while the seeds are adapted to survive the passage through the animal's gut; others have hooks that enable them to attach to a mammal's fur.Myrmecophytes are plants that have coevolved with ants. The plant provides a home, and sometimes food, for the ants. In exchange, the ants defend the plant from herbivores and sometimes competing plants. Ant wastes serve as organic fertilizer.
The majority of plant species have fungi associated with their root systems in a mutualistic symbiosis known as mycorrhiza. The fungi help the plants gain water and mineral nutrients from the soil, while the plant gives the fungi carbohydrates manufactured in photosynthesis.Some plants serve as homes for endophytic fungi that protect the plant from herbivores by producing toxins. The fungal endophyte Neotyphodium coenophialum in tall fescue grass has pest status in the American cattle industry.
Many legumes have Rhizobium nitrogen-fixing bacteria in nodules of their roots, which fix nitrogen from the air for the plant to use; in return, the plants supply sugars to the bacteria.Nitrogen fixed in this way can become available to other plants, and is important in agriculture; for example, farmers may grow a crop rotation of a legume such as beans, followed by a cereal such as wheat, to provide cash crops with a reduced input of nitrogen fertilizer.
Some 1% of plants are parasitic. They range from the semi-parasitic mistletoe that merely takes some nutrients from its host, but still has photosynthetic leaves, to the fully-parasitic broomrape and toothwort that acquire all their nutrients through connections to the roots of other plants, and so have no chlorophyll. Full parasites can be extremely harmful to their plant hosts.
Plants that grow on other plants, usually trees, without parasitizing them, are called epiphytes. These may support diverse arboreal ecosystems. Some may indirectly harm their host plant, such as by intercepting light. Hemiepiphytes like the strangler fig begin as epiphytes, but eventually set their own roots and overpower and kill their host. Many orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and mosses grow as epiphytes.Among the epiphytes, the bromeliads accumulate water in their leaf axils; these water-filled cavities can support complex aquatic food webs.
Some 630 species of plants are carnivorous, such as the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) and sundew (Drosera species). They trap small animals and digest them to obtain mineral nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus.
Competition for shared resources reduces a plant's growth.Shared resources include sunlight, water and nutrients. Light is a critical resource because it is necessary for photosynthesis. Plants use their leaves to shade other plants from sunlight and grow quickly to maximize their own expose. Water too is essential for photosynthesis; roots compete to maximize water uptake from soil. Some plants have deep roots that are able to locate water stored deep underground, and others have shallower roots that are capable of extending longer distances to collect recent rainwater. Minerals are important for plant growth and development. Common nutrients competed for amongst plants include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Human cultivation of plants is the core of agriculture, which in turn has played a key role in the history of world civilizations.Humans depend on plants for food, either directly or as feed in animal husbandry. Agriculture includes agronomy for arable crops, horticulture for vegetables and fruit, and forestry for timber. About 7,000 species of plant have been used for food, though most of today's food is derived from only 30 species. The major staples include cereals such as rice and wheat, starchy roots and tubers such as cassava and potato, and legumes such as peas and beans. Vegetable oils such as olive oil and palm oil provide lipids, while fruit and vegetables contribute vitamins and minerals to the diet. Coffee, tea, and chocolate are major crops whose caffeine-containing products serve as mild stimulants. The study of plant uses by people is called economic botany or ethnobotany.
Medicinal plants are a primary source of organic compounds, both for their medicinal and physiological effects, and for the industrial synthesis of a vast array of organic chemicals. De materia medica , describing some 600 medicinal plants, was written between 50 and 70 CE and remained in use in Europe and the Middle East until around 1600 CE; it was the precursor of all modern pharmacopoeias.Many hundreds of medicines, as well as narcotics, are derived from plants, both traditional medicines used in herbalism and chemical substances purified from plants or first identified in them, sometimes by ethnobotanical search, and then synthesised for use in modern medicine. Modern medicines derived from plants include aspirin, taxol, morphine, quinine, reserpine, colchicine, digitalis and vincristine. Plants used in herbalism include ginkgo, echinacea, feverfew, and Saint John's wort. The pharmacopoeia of Dioscorides,
Plants grown as industrial crops are the source of a wide range of products used in manufacturing.Nonfood products include essential oils, natural dyes, pigments, waxes, resins, tannins, alkaloids, amber and cork. Products derived from plants include soaps, shampoos, perfumes, cosmetics, paint, varnish, turpentine, rubber, latex, lubricants, linoleum, plastics, inks, and gums. Renewable fuels from plants include firewood, peat and other biofuels. The fossil fuels coal, petroleum and natural gas are derived from the remains of aquatic organisms including phytoplankton in geological time. Many of the coal fields date to the Carboniferous period of Earth's history. Terrestrial plants also form type III kerogen, a source of natural gas.
Structural resources and fibres from plants are used to construct dwellings and to manufacture clothing. Wood is used for buildings, boats, and furniture, and for smaller items such as musical instruments and sports equipment. Wood is pulped to make paper and cardboard.Cloth is often made from cotton, flax, ramie or synthetic fibres such as rayon, derived from plant cellulose. Thread used to sew cloth likewise comes in large part from cotton.
Thousands of plant species are cultivated for their beauty and to provide shade, modify temperatures, reduce wind, abate noise, provide privacy, and reduce soil erosion. Plants are the basis of a multibillion-dollar per year tourism industry, which includes travel to historic gardens, national parks, rainforests, forests with colourful autumn leaves, and festivals such as Japan'sand America's cherry blossom festivals.
Plants may be grown indoors as houseplants, or in specialized buildings such as greenhouses. Plants such as Venus flytrap, sensitive plant and resurrection plant are sold as novelties. Art forms specializing in the arrangement of cut or living plant include bonsai, ikebana, and the arrangement of cut or dried flowers. Ornamental plants have sometimes changed the course of history, as in tulipomania.
The traditional study of plants is the science of botany.Basic biological research has often used plants as its model organisms. In genetics, the breeding of pea plants allowed Gregor Mendel to derive the basic laws governing inheritance, and examination of chromosomes in maize allowed Barbara McClintock to demonstrate their connection to inherited traits. The plant Arabidopsis thaliana is used in laboratories as a model organism to understand how genes control the growth and development of plant structures. Tree rings provide a method of dating in archeology, and a record of past climates. The study of plant fossils, or Paleobotany, provides information about the evolutions of plants, paleogeographical reconstructions, and past climate change. Plant fossils can also help determine the age of rocks.
Plants including trees appear in mythology, religion, and literature.In multiple Indo-European, Siberian, and Native American religions, the world tree motif is depicted as a colossal tree growing on the earth, supporting the heavens, and with its roots reaching into the underworld. It may also appear as a cosmic tree or an eagle and serpent tree. Forms of the world tree include the archetypal tree of life, which is in turn connected to the Eurasian concept of the sacred tree. Another widespread ancient motif, found for example in Iran, has a tree of life flanked by a pair of confronted animals.
Flowers are often used as memorials, gifts and to mark special occasions such as births, deaths, weddings and holidays. Flower arrangements may be used to send hidden messages.Plants and especially flowers form the subjects of many paintings.
Weeds are commercially or aesthetically undesirable plants growing in managed environments such as in agriculture and gardens.People have spread many plants beyond their native ranges; some of these plants have become invasive, damaging existing ecosystems by displacing native species, and sometimes becoming serious weeds of cultivation.
Some plants that produce windblown pollen, including grasses, invoke allergic reactions in people who suffer from hay fever.Many plants produce toxins to protect themselves from herbivores. Major classes of plant toxins include alkaloids, terpenoids, and phenolics. These can be harmful to humans and livestock by ingestion or, as with poison ivy, by contact. Some plants have negative effects on other plants, preventing seedling growth or the growth of nearby plants by releasing allopathic chemicals.
Algae is an informal term for a large and diverse group of photosynthetic, eukaryotic organisms. It is a polyphyletic grouping that includes species from multiple distinct clades. Included organisms range from unicellular microalgae, such as Chlorella, Prototheca and the diatoms, to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelp, a large brown alga which may grow up to 50 metres (160 ft) in length. Most are aquatic and lack many of the distinct cell and tissue types, such as stomata, xylem and phloem that are found in land plants. The largest and most complex marine algae are called seaweeds, while the most complex freshwater forms are the Charophyta, a division of green algae which includes, for example, Spirogyra and stoneworts. Algae that are carried by water are plankton, specifically phytoplankton.
Botany, also called plant science, plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek word βοτάνη meaning "pasture", "herbs" "grass", or "fodder"; βοτάνη is in turn derived from βόσκειν, "to feed" or "to graze". Traditionally, botany has also included the study of fungi and algae by mycologists and phycologists respectively, with the study of these three groups of organisms remaining within the sphere of interest of the International Botanical Congress. Nowadays, botanists study approximately 410,000 species of land plants of which some 391,000 species are vascular plants, and approximately 20,000 are bryophytes.
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all forms of life. Every cell consists of cytoplasm enclosed within a membrane, and contains many macromolecules such as proteins, DNA and RNA, as well as many small molecules of nutrients and metabolites. The term comes from the Latin word cellula meaning 'small room'.
Flowering plants are plants that bear flowers and fruits, and form the clade Angiospermae, commonly called angiosperms. They include all forbs, grasses and grass-like plants, a vast majority of broad-leaved trees, shrubs and vines, and most aquatic plants. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek words ἀγγεῖον / angeion and σπέρμα / sperma ('seed'), meaning that the seeds are enclosed within a fruit. They are by far the most diverse group of land plants with 64 orders, 416 families, approximately 13,000 known genera and 300,000 known species. Angiosperms were formerly called Magnoliophyta.
Photosynthesis is a biological process used by many cellular organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy, which is stored in organic compounds that can later be metabolized through cellular respiration to fuel the organism's activities. The term usually refers to oxygenic photosynthesis, where oxygen is produced as a byproduct and some of the chemical energy produced is stored in carbohydrate molecules such as sugars, starch, glycogen and cellulose, which are synthesized from endergonic reaction of carbon dioxide with water. Most plants, algae and cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis; such organisms are called photoautotrophs. Photosynthesis is largely responsible for producing and maintaining the oxygen content of the Earth's atmosphere, and supplies most of the biological energy necessary for complex life on Earth.
Symbiogenesis is the leading evolutionary theory of the origin of eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic organisms. The theory holds that mitochondria, plastids such as chloroplasts, and possibly other organelles of eukaryotic cells are descended from formerly free-living prokaryotes taken one inside the other in endosymbiosis. Mitochondria appear to be phylogenetically related to Rickettsiales bacteria, while chloroplasts are thought to be related to cyanobacteria.
Cyanobacteria, also called Cyanobacteriota or Cyanophyta, are a phylum of gram-negative bacteria that obtain energy via photosynthesis. The name cyanobacteria refers to their color, which similarly forms the basis of cyanobacteria's common name, blue-green algae, although they are not usually scientifically classified as algae. They appear to have originated in a freshwater or terrestrial environment. Sericytochromatia, the proposed name of the paraphyletic and most basal group, is the ancestor of both the non-photosynthetic group Melainabacteria and the photosynthetic cyanobacteria, also called Oxyphotobacteria.
The plastid is a membrane-bound organelle found in the cells of plants, algae, and some other eukaryotic organisms. They are considered to be intracellular endosymbiotic cyanobacteria. Examples include chloroplasts, chromoplasts, and leucoplasts.
A multicellular organism is an organism that consists of more than one cell, in contrast to unicellular organism. All species of animals, land plants and most fungi are multicellular, as are many algae, whereas a few organisms are partially uni- and partially multicellular, like slime molds and social amoebae such as the genus Dictyostelium.
The Embryophyta, or land plants, are the most familiar group of green plants that comprise vegetation on Earth. Embryophytes have a common ancestor with green algae, having emerged within the Phragmoplastophyta clade of green algae as sister of the Zygnematophyceae. The Embryophyta consist of the bryophytes plus the polysporangiophytes. Living embryophytes therefore include hornworts, liverworts, mosses, lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms and flowering plants. The land plants have diplobiontic life cycles and it is accepted now that they emerged from freshwater, multi-celled algae.
The green algae are a group consisting of the Prasinodermophyta and its unnamed sister which contains the Chlorophyta and Charophyta/Streptophyta. The land plants (Embryophytes) have emerged deep in the Charophyte alga as sister of the Zygnematophyceae. Since the realization that the Embryophytes emerged within the green algae, some authors are starting to include them. The completed clade that includes both green algae and embryophytes is monophyletic and is referred to as the clade Viridiplantae and as the kingdom Plantae. The green algae include unicellular and colonial flagellates, most with two flagella per cell, as well as various colonial, coccoid and filamentous forms, and macroscopic, multicellular seaweeds. There are about 22,000 species of green algae. Many species live most of their lives as single cells, while other species form coenobia (colonies), long filaments, or highly differentiated macroscopic seaweeds.
Marine life, sea life, or ocean life is the plants, animals, and other organisms that live in the salt water of seas or oceans, or the brackish water of coastal estuaries. At a fundamental level, marine life affects the nature of the planet. Marine organisms, mostly microorganisms, produce oxygen and sequester carbon. Marine life in part shape and protect shorelines, and some marine organisms even help create new land.
A biologist is a scientist who conducts research in biology. Biologists are interested in studying life on Earth, whether it is an individual cell, a multicellular organism, or a community of interacting populations. They usually specialize in a particular branch of biology and have a specific research focus.
The Archaeplastida are a major group of eukaryotes, comprising the photoautotrophic red algae (Rhodophyta), green algae, land plants, and the minor group glaucophytes. It also includes the non-photosynthetic lineage Rhodelphidia, a predatorial (eukaryotrophic) flagellate that is sister to the Rhodophyta, and probably the microscopic picozoans. The Archaeplastida have chloroplasts that are surrounded by two membranes, suggesting that they were acquired directly through a single endosymbiosis event by feeding on a cyanobacterium. All other groups which have chloroplasts, besides the amoeboid genus Paulinella, have chloroplasts surrounded by three or four membranes, suggesting they were acquired secondarily from red or green algae. Unlike red and green algae, glaucophytes have never been involved in secondary endosymbiosis events.
Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of cells that process hereditary information encoded in genes, which can be transmitted to future generations. Another major theme is evolution, which explains the unity and diversity of life. Energy processing is also important to life as it allows organisms to move, grow, and reproduce. Finally, all organisms are able to regulate their own internal environments.
The evolution of plants has resulted in a wide range of complexity, from the earliest algal mats of unicellular archaeplastids evolved through endosymbiosis, through multicellular marine and freshwater green algae, to spore-bearing terrestrial bryophytes, lycopods and ferns, and eventually to the complex seed-bearing gymnosperms and angiosperms of today. While many of the earliest groups continue to thrive, as exemplified by red and green algae in marine environments, more recently derived groups have displaced previously ecologically dominant ones; for example, the ascendance of flowering plants over gymnosperms in terrestrial environments.
The history of life on Earth traces the processes by which living and fossil organisms evolved, from the earliest emergence of life to present day. Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago and evidence suggests that life emerged prior to 3.7 Ga. Although there is some evidence of life as early as 4.1 to 4.28 Ga, it remains controversial due to the possible non-biological formation of the purported fossils.
The eukaryotes constitute the domain of Eukarya, organisms whose cells have a membrane-bound nucleus. All animals, plants, fungi, and many unicellular organisms are eukaryotes. They constitute a major group of life forms alongside the two groups of prokaryotes: the Bacteria and the Archaea. Eukaryotes represent a small minority of the number of organisms, but due to their generally much larger size, their collective global biomass is much larger than that of prokaryotes.
The evolution of photosynthesis refers to the origin and subsequent evolution of photosynthesis, the process by which light energy is used to assemble sugars from carbon dioxide and a hydrogen and electron source such as water. The process of photosynthesis was discovered by Jan Ingenhousz, a Dutch-born British physician and scientist, first publishing about it in 1779.
Marine primary production is the chemical synthesis in the ocean of organic compounds from atmospheric or dissolved carbon dioxide. It principally occurs through the process of photosynthesis, which uses light as its source of energy, but it also occurs through chemosynthesis, which uses the oxidation or reduction of inorganic chemical compounds as its source of energy. Almost all life on Earth relies directly or indirectly on primary production. The organisms responsible for primary production are called primary producers or autotrophs.
Species estimates and counts: