Algae lack true roots, leaves, or stems, and instead have simple thalli existing as unicells, filaments, or colonies. Algal taxa are primarily characterized by thallus structure, cell wall structure, pigmentation, and motility, along with other ultrastructural and molecular features. The algae range in size from tiny plankton to enormous kelp hundreds of meters in length, and are found in diverse environments. Like plants, all photosynthetic algae possess the pigment chlorophyll a and release oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.
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