EB1911 Algae - Fig. 2.-Chlorophyceae.png
Chlorophytes (A–F, H–L and O)
Scientific classification e
Reichenbach, 1828, emend. Pascher, 1914, emend. Lewis & McCourt, 2004[1][2][3]
  • Chlorophycophyta Papenfuss 1946
  • Chlorophycota
  • Chlorophytina
  • Chlorophyllophyceae
  • Isokontae
  • Stephanokontae[5]
Green algae on coastal rocks at Shihtiping in Taiwan

Chlorophyta or Prasinophyta is a taxon of green algae informally called chlorophytes.[6] The name is used in two very different senses, so care is needed to determine the use by a particular author. In older classification systems, it refers to a highly paraphyletic group of all the green algae within the green plants (Viridiplantae) and thus includes about 7,000 species[7][8] of mostly aquatic photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms. In newer classifications, it refers to the sister of the streptophytes/charophytes. The clade Streptophyta consists of the Charophyta in which the Embryophyta emerged.[9][10] In this sense the Chlorophyta includes only about 4,300 species.[4] About 90% of all known species live in freshwater.[11]Like the land plants (bryophytes and tracheophytes), green algae contain chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b and store food as starch[7] in their plastids.

With the exception of Palmophyllophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Ulvophyceae and Chlorophyceae, which show various degrees of multicellularity, all the Chlorophyta lineages are unicellular.[12] Some members of the group form symbiotic relationships with protozoa, sponges, and cnidarians. Others form symbiotic relationships with fungi to form lichens, but the majority of species are free-living. Some conduct sexual reproduction, which is oogamous or isogamous. All members of the clade have motile flagellated swimming cells.[13] While most species live in freshwater habitats and a large number in marine habitats, other species are adapted to a wide range of land environments. For example, Chlamydomonas nivalis, which causes Watermelon snow, lives on summer alpine snowfields. Others, such as Trentepohlia species, live attached to rocks or woody parts of trees. Monostroma kuroshiense, an edible green alga cultivated worldwide and most expensive among green algae, belongs to this group.


Species of Chlorophyta (treated as what is now considered one of the two main clades of Viridiplantae) are common inhabitants of marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments.[14][15] Several species have adapted to specialised and extreme environments, such as deserts, arctic environments, hypersaline habitats, marine deep waters, deep-sea hydrothermal vents and habitats that experiences extreme changes in temperature, light and salinity. [16][17][18][19] Some groups, such as the Trentepohliales are exclusively found on land.[20] Several species of Chlorophyta live in symbiosis with a diverse range of eukaryotes, including fungi (to form lichens), ciliates, forams, cnidarians and molluscs. [15] Some species of Chlorophyta are heterotrophic, either free-living or parasitic.[21][22] Two common species of the heterotrophic green alga Prototheca are pathogenic and can cause the disease protothecosis in humans and animals.[23]