Algal Cell Walls

Like plants, algae have cell walls. Algal cell walls contain either polysaccharides (such as cellulose (a glucan)) or a variety of glycoproteins (Volvocales) or both. The inclusion of additional polysaccharides in algal cells walls is used as a feature for algal taxonomy. algal cells

  • Mannans: They form microfibrils in the cell walls of a number of marine green algae including those from the genera, Codium, Dasycladus, and Acetabularia as well as in the walls of some red algae, like Porphyra and Bangia.
  • Xylans: 
  • Alginic acid: It is a common polysaccharide in the cell walls of brown algae.
  • Sulfonated polysaccharides: They occur in the cell walls of most algae; those common in red algae include agarose, carrageenan, porphyran, furcelleran and funoran.

Other compounds that may accumulate in algal cell walls include sporopollenin and calcium ions.

The group of algae known as the diatoms synthesize their cell walls (also known as frustules or valves) from silicic acid (specifically orthosilicic acid, H4SiO4). The acid is polymerized intra-cellularly, then the wall is extruded to protect the cell. Significantly, relative to the organic cell walls produced by other groups, silica frustules require less energy to synthesize (approximately 8%), potentially a major saving on the overall cell energy budget and possibly an explanation for higher growth rates in diatoms.

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