Welcome back to another "What Is It?" episode of Algae Corner! On this episode, we're talking about silk algae, or spirogyra.
Spyrogyra is a filamentous desmid in the streptophyte phyla, with spiraling chloroplasts that grow around the cell. It's sort of slippery feeling, hence the name silk algae.
The reason it feels this way is because it has this extra-cellular cell wall made mostly of pectin.
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Spirogyra consists of non-branched filaments that can form mats or clumps. You can move your fingers across these, and it usually feels rigid. It almost feels like hairs between your fingertips.
When you hold it up, you can usually see little droplets of water sliding down it. It's pretty neat looking in my opinion.
Spirogyra often grows in cool conditions. You can see it in green tufts, and it can certainly form thicker mats in spring and early summer.
Spirogyra can reproduce sexually, via a scalariform conjugation where two filaments align, pass genetic information across, and ultimately form a fertilized zygote. Those zygotes can be a source of blooms the following year. Check out our Algae After Dark episode to learn more about that form of reproduction.
Spirogyra is a very beautiful and very photogenic early season desmid, but it can get out of control and cause big issues, ultimately clogging up your water resource. We have some great technologies to help clean it up.
Reach out us if you need any help, and thank you for tuning in to today's special episode on the silk algae, spirogyra.