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15 3klein2.jpg
Nannochloropsis sp.
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Chromalveolata
Phylum: Heterokontophyta
Class: Eustigmatophyceae
Hibberd & Leedale, 1971
Order: Eustigmatales
Hibberd, 1981


Eustigmatophytes are a small group (7 genera; ~12 species) of eukaryotic algae that includes marine, freshwater and soil-living species.[2] All eustigmatophytes are unicellular, with coccoid cells and polysaccharide cell walls. Eustigmatophytes contain one or more yellow-green chloroplasts, which contain chlorophyll a and the accessory pigments violaxanthin and β-carotene. Eustigmatophyte zoids (gametes) possess a single or pair of flagella, originating from the apex of the cell. Unlike other heterokontophytes, eustigmatophyte zoids do not have typical photoreceptive organelles (or eyespots); instead, an orange-red eyespot outside of a chloroplast is located at the anterior end of the zoid.

Ecologically, eustigmatophytes occur as photosynthetic autotrophs across a range of systems. Most eustigmatophyte genera live in freshwater or in soil, although Nannochloropsis contains marine species of picophytoplankton (2 → 4 μm).

The class was erected to include some algae previously classified in the Xanthophyceae.[3]

See also[edit]