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.
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.