Difference between Algae and Plants

Plants are complex organisms that belong to the kingdom Plantae, whereas algae are primitive organisms thriving under the kingdom protista. The classification of algae has always been controversial, it was once grouped with plants and has been regrouped several times. They both are photosynthetic autotrophs, and are mostly eukaryotes.

Let us look at the points where these two differ from each other.




They lack a true root and shoot system, however they have rhizoids which can attach themselves to a surface.

They are well differentiated into a root and shoot system.

Number of cells

Some are unicellular, while others are multicellular.

All plants are multicellular.


They are free moving organisms.

They are tethered to the soil by roots, hence no movement.


They are non vascular.

Higher plants have an extensive network of xylem and phloem elements, which help in the transport of food and water.


They are found in aquatic environments.

They are mostly terrestrial but are also found in water.

Photosynthetic pigment

They have chlorophyll, carotenoid and phycobilin.

They have only carotenoid and phycobilin.

Economic importance

They serve as a source of crude oil and food for almost all aquatic organisms.

Plants serve as food for humans and livestock. Additionally, they are used for making medicines, ornaments, and a variety of industrial products.


The study of algae is called phycology.

The study of plants is called botany.

This sums up the major differences between plants and algae.

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Frequently Asked Questions


How are algae and plants different?

The main difference between algae and plants lie in their cellular composition. While algae can exist as both unicellular and multicellular structures, plants are only multicellular.

What are the major differences between algae and fungi?

The major difference between algae and fungi is that algae contain chlorophyll while fungi do not have chlorophyll.


What is the difference between algae and bacteria?

All the bacteria are single celled organisms, whereas algae exist as both unicellular and multicellular organisms.


Why are fungi not classified as plants?

Fungi are not classified as plants because their cell wall is made of chitin while those of plants are made of cellulose.


Why are most plants and some algae green?

Most plants and algae are green because of the presence of a green pigment chlorophyll.


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