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The term algae (Latin alga = seaweed) is applied to various eukaryotic (with a cell nucleus) organisms that mostly live in water and carry out photosynthesis. They are lower, unicellular or multicellular plant organisms that can be microscopically small as plankton or up to 50 metres long as seaweed. They are the oldest group of plants on earth and, with over 50,000 species, inhabit almost all humid habitats. Some forms live as lichens in symbiosis with fungi or as corals in marine polyps (corals consist of many small polyps that together form a coral reef). Algae and lichens are involved in weathering and soil formation processes such as the transformation of humus.

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