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What is the Difference Between Algae and Bryophytes?

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Difference Between Algae and Bryophytes

There are majorly two types of primitive autotrophs found on our planet, Earth. They are algae and bryophytes. Both organisms have a lot of similarities, exhibiting undifferentiated and thalloid body structures. Algae play an important role in ecosystems such as fresh and marine water, as primary producers and oxygen producers. The most primitive land plants are bryophytes, living in the middle of aquatic and terrestrial environments.

The topic is of utmost importance for students to get a grip on their subject Biology. It is not very easy to pass any tests or exams with such a subject. Hence, the safe side would be to get acquainted well with not the subject but the main topics that will help you immensely in terms of understanding of the subject. With the two groups of organisms Algae and Bryophytes, you should know their proper makeup and how they differ, since they seem to have multiple similarities. 

Bryophytes are considered to be evolved from algae. Both algae and bryophytes’ cell walls are made up of cellulose and they lack a vascular system. The main difference that is found between the algae and bryophytes is the division of the plant body, where no division of labor is observed in the plant body of algae whereas the plant body of bryophytes internally divides into photosynthetic and storage zones. Let us learn more about bryophytes and algae.

About Algae:

Algae is an organism that plays a very significant role in ecosystems. They are the primary oxygen producers in fresh and marine water.  Algae are plant-like organisms, which are classified under kingdom Protista. Algae are mostly found in marine, freshwater, and wastewater habitats. They are unicellular. As most of the algae are autotrophs, they contain photosynthetic pigments in their cells. As with other modes of nutrition, the types of algae found are heterotrophic and mixotrophic. Mixotrophic algae use nutrition modes, autotrophy and heterotrophy. In the aquatic food chains, the autotrophic algae serve as the primary producers. Around 70% of breathing oxygen is produced by algae.

All cells in the plant body are capable of growing and reproducing. The size of the algal body varies from microalgae to macroalgae. Cyanobacteria are prokaryotic microalgae. They are called blue-green algae as well. Seaweeds are macroalgae. Algae produce motile spores during asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction occurs in eukaryotic algae by the fusion of male and female gametes, that are produced in different individuals. Hence, eukaryotic algae are sexually dimorphic.

About Bryophytes:

Bryophytes, on the other hand, are the most primitive land plants. Bryophytes are the non­-vascular land plants, which are classified under the kingdom of Plantae. They are spore-producing plants and the gametophyte stage is the dominant one in the life cycle. Bryophytes are not seed-producing or flowering plants. They are mostly autotrophs. Some of the bryophytes such as liverworts do not contain chlorophyll, hence, they depend on a fungal partner for food. They grow in moist shady places, producing phenolic compounds which deter herbivores. Other plants are also benefited from the water collected by bryophytes.

Bryophytes are macroscopic plants whose size varies from a millimeter tall to long strands about one meter. Rootlike structures called rhizoids allow the plant to anchor on a surface. Rhizoids are not water-absorbing units. In the plant body, the water is conducted internally which is absorbed by the plant body itself. In bryophytes, asexual reproduction occurs by fragmentation and small aggregations called gemmae. The sperms are carried to the eggs through the water during the process of sexual reproduction. Fertilization of gametes forms the gametophyte with the spore capsules called the sporophyte. The sporophyte produces spores, which are dispersed through the wind.

The Comparison

Bryophytes are considered to be an evolved form of algae. Both of the organisms algae and bryophytes have cell walls that are made up of cellulose. They do not have a vascular system. The one main difference that can be found between the two organisms algae and bryophytes, is the plant body division. 

It is found that the plant body of algae does not contain any division of labour. But, when it comes to a bryophytes’ plant body, it can internally divide into storage and photosynthetic zones. 

Difference Between Algae and Bryophytes





Algae are plant-like organisms, which are classified under kingdom Protista.

Bryophytes are a division of non-vascular land plants classified under kingdom Plantae. 

Growth Habitat

Growth in aquatic habitat

Grows in a moist, shady place. 

Role in the food chain

They serve as a primary producer in the aquatic food chain. 

These produce important buffer systems for other plants. 

Cell composition

Can be unicellular or multicellular and filamentous, thalloid or leafy. 

Always multicellular, thalloid, or leafy. 

Division of labour

The plant body exhibits no division of labour. 

The plant body is internally divided into photosynthetic and storage zones. 

Presence of stomata

Pores or stomata are absent in this living organism. 

There is a gaseous exchange that occurs through pores or stomata. 

Pollen Grains production

Produce a small number of pollen grains. 

Produce a large number of pollen grains. 

The ability for Reproduction and growth

Each and every cell is capable of growth and reproduction. 

Only apical cells are capable of growth and reproduction. 

Sexual reproduction

occurs isogamous, anisogamous, or monogamous.

Sexual reproduction occurs only through oogamous.

Embryo formation

No embryo formation occurs. 

The embryo is formed in the zygote. 


The sporophyte is independent of the gametophyte. 

Sporophytes depend on the gametophyte of bryophyte. 


In biology algae and bryophytes sometimes share common features and few of the characteristics distinguish them. The chloroplast pigments present in bryophytes are similar to that of the green algae. The food material stored in both of them is starch. The main feature which differentiates them is the higher level of organizations and the organs present in the bryophytes.

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FAQs on What is the Difference Between Algae and Bryophytes?

1. Explain the Classification of Algae.

Chlorophyta, Rhodophyta, and Phaeophyta are the three morphological types of algae. Chlorophyta is the most diverse group of algae. Chlorophyll, beta carotene, and xanthophylls are the pigments found in Chlorophyta. Hence, Chlorophyta is called green algae. Rhodophyta is red algae, containing phycoerythrin as the main photosynthetic pigment. Phaeophyta is brown algae, containing chlorophyll c and fucoxanthin as photosynthetic pigments. Laminaria saccharina, which is a brown sea­weed.

2. Explain the Classification of Bryophytes.

Marchantiophyta (liverworts), Bryophyta (mosses), and Anthocerotophyta (hornworts) are three of the main divisions of the organisms, bryophytes. Liverworts are flattened moss­like leafy plants. The leaves of the liverworts lack costa. But marginal cilia are present in liverworts. Mosses consist of one cell of thick, simple leaves, which are attached to a stem.

They grow in dense green clumps. Mosses contain costa, which is a midrib, running lengthwise through the leaf. Hornworts consist of a horn­like, elongated sporophyte on the gametophyte.

3. Mention any Two Differences Between Bryophytes and Algae.

Bryophytes and algae may have a few similarities, but the differences between the two organisms are more. Here are two of such differences: 

  • Cell Composition

When it comes to algae, they can be in the form of unicellular or multicellular organisms. The Bryophytes, on the other hand, can be found in the form of thalloid, filamentous, or leafy. 

  • Type

Algae is a type of plant organism, which can be categorized under the kingdom Protista.

Bryophytes, on the other hand, are classified as non-vascular land plants in the category of the kingdom Plantae. 

4. How does reproduction take place in Bryophytes and Algae?

Reproduction is the major part of every living organism. With a living organism like algae, each cell has the capability of reproduction. But, in Bryophytes, only apical cells have the capability to reproduce. 

Now we come to the two organisms’ ability for sexual reproduction. When we talk about algae, sexual reproduction occurs in it through anisogamous, isogamous, or oogamous. Whereas in bryophytes it occurs only through oogamous.

These are the basics of reproduction in the two plants which ensure that there are more of these so that the ecosystem is well balanced.

5. How are algae different from bryophytes?

Algae and bryophytes are two living organisms that might be similar in a few ways but have a lot of differences. Their most basic difference is found to be in terms of their very cell composition. Algae is the only unicellular or multicellular organism when it comes to plants. And when it comes to bryophytes, they are known to be a much-evolved form of algae. There is no division of labour in terms of algae, while in terms of bryophytes, the organism has divisions pertaining to storage zones and photosynthetic zones.

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