Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

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Photosynthetic pigments found in members of the Rhodophyta include chlorophyll-a, phycobilins such as phycoerythrin and phycocyanin, and carotenoids. Chlorophyll-a is the primary photosynthetic pigment found in all photosynthetic organisms, and the other pigments serve as accessory pigments to capture energy from light at wavelengths not absorbed by chlorophyll a.

The main storage product of Gelidium, like other members of the Rhodophyta, is floridean starge found in particles in the cytoplasm rather than in the chloroplasts.

The important polysaccharides used in producing agar come from the cell wall of Gelidium. Agar contains many different polysaccharides that have the same backbone structure but include substitutions in their charged groups. These polysaccharides contain D- and L-galactose units in alteration and are best characterized physically due to their ability to form gels and viscous solutions under appropriate conditions. Algal polysaccharides, including those from both brown and red algae, are termed phycocolloids.

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© 1999 Sharon C. Komarow. All rights reserved.