Algal Diversity and Evolution

  • Hiroshi Oyaizu
  • Shigeto Ohtsuka


The earth was born 4.6 billion years ago, as a planet of the solar system. Then, after the chemical evolution of organic compounds ca. 4.0 to 3.5 billion years ago, life was created by accident. Ancient living cells are presumed to have had RNA as their hereditary element (xcGilbert, 1986). RNA was substituted by DNA and the present form of living cells (possessing protein-synthesizing ability) is the DNA-based organism. DNA organisms evolved to the presently existing various descendents. Driving forces for the explosive evolution that occurred were environmental changes in the biosphere. The decrease in temperature of the biosphere was one of the most important environmental changes associated with early evolution (xcWoese, 1981; xcWoese, 1987). Ancient organisms, living before 3.0 billion years ago, are presumed to have been thermophiles, which required temperatures higher than 70°C. The temperature of the surface of the earth decreased gradually to below 70°C, after 3.0 billion years ago (xcTrakes, 1979), and thermophilic organisms were, thereafter, found in hot springs or in the hydrothermal vents of deep sea volcanos. The second important environmental change in the biosphere was generation of oxygen (xcCloud, 1983). Oxygen was produced by cyanobacteria in the sea, and after oxygen saturation of the sea, oxygen was released into the atmosphere. The generation of oxygen selected against the primitive anaerobic bacteria, leading to selection of aerobic bacteria. The primitive forms of anaerobic bacteria are presumed to be archaebacteria (xcWoese, 1981; xcWoese, 1987). As the concentration of atmospheric oxygen increased, aerobic eubacteria diversified explosively about 2.0 billion years ago. The eucaryotes were created by endosymbiosis about 2.0 billion years ago, and various multicellular organisms were created up to 0.7 billion years ago (xcCloud, 1983).


Green Alga Land Plant Chloroplast Genome Plastid Genome Pigment Composition 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroshi Oyaizu
    • 1
  • Shigeto Ohtsuka
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Agriculture and Life ScienceUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan

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