Glossary

Terms

algae: a simple plant or plant-like organism of a large group that
includes the seaweeds and many single-celled forms. Algae contain 
chlorophyll but lack true stems, roots, leaves, and vascular tissue.
amino acid: any one of many acids that occur naturally in living 
things and that include some which form proteins.
bacteria: kingdom of simple microscopic unicellular organisms 
infamous for causing disease.
blue-green algae: see cyanobacteria for information.
bloom: the rapid excess growth of algae, generally caused by high 
nutrient levels and favorable conditions. May lead to the death of 
aquatic flora and fauna.
chloroplast: a part of a plant that has chlorophyll and conducts 
photosynthesis.
chlorophyll: the green substance in plants that makes it possible
for them to make food from carbon dioxide and water
colony: a localized population of individuals of the same species 
which are living either attached or separately.
cyanobacteria: a phylum of Bacteria that produce oxygen during 
photosynthesis.  Also known as blue-green algae.
eukaryote: an organism consisting of a cell or cells in which the
genetic material is DNA in the form of chromosomes contained within 
a distinct nucleus. Eukaryotes include all living organisms other 
than the eubacteria and archaebacteria.
eutrophication: excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other 
body of water, frequently due to runoff from the land, which causes 
a dense growth of plant life and death of animal life from lack of 
oxygen.
genus: a principal taxonomic category that ranks above species 
and below family, and is denoted by a capitalized Latin name, 
e.g., Homo.
microcystin: any of a class of cyclic oligopeptide hepatotoxins 
produced by cyanobacteria.
microcystis: a genus of the cyanobacteria; produces a peptide 
toxin, microcystin, which causes acute liver necrosis.
phosphate: an organic compound necessary for mineralization of 
bone and other key cellular processes.
phosphorus: a nonmetallic multivalent element that occurs widely 
in combined form especially as inorganic phosphates in minerals, 
soils, natural waters, bones, and teeth and as organic phosphates 
in all living cells and that exists in several allotropic forms.
photosynthesis: the process by which a green plant, or an organism 
containing chloroplasts, turns water and carbon dioxide into food when 
the plant is exposed to light.
phylum: the primary subdivision of a taxonomic kingdom, grouping 
together all classes of organisms that have the same body plan; a 
principal taxonomic category that ranks above class and below kingdom.
plankton: The collection of small or microscopic organisms, including 
algae and protozoans, that float or drift in great numbers infresh or 
salt water, especially at or near the surface, and serve as food for 
fish and other larger organisms.
prokaryote: any organism having cells in each of which the genetic 
material is in a single DNA chain, not enclosed in a nucleus.  Bacteria 
are prokaryotes. 
spirulina: a microscopic genus of filamentous aquatic cyanobacteria
that is sometimes cultivated for use as food especially as a dietary
supplement.  Although there is a genus called Spirulina, the cultivated
organism being referenced here is from the genus Arthrospira.
stromatolite: a layered deposit formed by the growth of blue-green 
algae. It consists of layers made of cyanobacteria, calcium carbonate, 
and trapped sediment.
toxin: a poisonous substance and especially one that is produced by a 
living thing.
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