Difference between Algae and Moss

Algae and mosses are green organisms which appear the same when looked at, however they differ in their structure and classification drastically. They are both photosynthetic autotrophs and are not differentiated into roots, shoots, and leaves. They are non-vascular plants which do not produce any flowers or seeds. Despite these similarities, they have a number of differences. Let us look at them closely.




Algae are eukaryotic autotrophs which contain chlorophyll.

Mosses are small flowerless green plants.


They belong to the kingdom of Protists.

They belong to the division of bryophytes under the kingdom Plantae.


Algae are not closely related, so they are a polyphyletic group of organisms.

Mosses seem to have evolved from a common ancestor, hence they are paraphyletic organisms.


They have a thallus-like structure, which can be filamentous, plate-like or branched.

Their structure is divided into root-like, leaf-like and stem-like structures.

Number of species

There are more than 30,000 species of algae known.

There are around 12000 species of mosses known.


They are mainly marine and freshwater organisms.

They grow in moist, damp and shady places.


Female reproductive organ is oogonium.

Female reproductive organ is an archegonium.

No sterile jacket was found.

There is a sterile jacket around both the male and female sex organs.

All the cells of an algal thallus can undergo reproduction.

Only the apical cells in a moss undergo reproduction.

Alternation of generation is isomorphic, i.e, the gametophyte and sporophyte are morphologically similar.

Alternation of generation is heteromorphic, i.e, the gametophyte and sporophyte are morphologically different.

Three types of sexual gametes are produced: isogamous, anisogamous and oogamous.

Only oogamous gametes are produced.

No embryo is formed from the zygote.

A zygote is formed from the embryo.


The sporophyte remains undifferentiated.

Sporophyte differentiates into a food, seta and capsule.

It is independent of the gametophyte.

It remains attached to the gametophyte and is dependent on it for food and nutrition.

Economic Importance

  • Agar is extracted from red algae, which serves as a medium to grow bacteria and fungi.
  • Chlorella and Spirulina are being consumed as superfoods rich in vitamins and ions.
  • The natural pigments found in algae can be used as dyes and colouring agents.
  • It was used in traditional medicinal practices as an absorbent.
  • Decaying moss is turned into peat, which is used as a fuel.
  • They are used by florists for decorations.

This sums up the differences between algae and moss.

Explore more such differences at BYJU’S Biology.

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Frequently Asked Questions


How is algae different than moss?

Algae are marine organisms which belong to the kingdom Protista, whereas mosses are terrestrial organisms which belong to the kingdom Plantae.

Is moss a fungus or algae?

A moss is neither a fungus, nor an algae. Rather, it is a plant under the division of Bryophyta in the kingdom of Plantae.


What is the difference between fungi and moss?

Mosses are plants, whereas fungi are neither plants nor animals. The major difference between a fungi and moss is that fungi cannot make their own food, while mosses can.


What makes mosses different?

Mosses are non-flowering plants and they lack roots. Instead they have hair-like structures called rhizoids, which anchor them to the soil.