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Cyanobacteria is any of a large heterogeneous group of prokaryotic principally photosynthetic organisms Cyanobacteria resemble the eukaryotic algae in many ways including morphological characteristics and ecological niches and were at one time treated as algae hence the common name of blue-green algae Algae have since been reclassified as protists and the prokaryotic nature of the blue-green algae has caused them to be classified with bacteria in the prokaryotic kingdom Monera Like all other prokaryotes cyanobacteria lack a membrane-bound nucleus mitochondria Golgi apparatus chloroplasts and endoplasmic reticulum All of the functions carried out in eukaryotes by these membrane-bound organelles are carried out in prokaryotes by various parts of the cell such as the cell membrane Some cyanobacteria especially planktonic forms have gas vesicles that contribute to their buoyancy Chemical genetic and physiological characteristics are used to further classify the group within the kingdom Cyanobacteria may be unicellular or filamentous Many have sheaths to bind other cells or filaments into colonies Cyanobacteria contain only one form of chlorophyll chlorophyll a a green pigment In addition they contain various yellowish carotenoids the blue pigment phycobilin and in some species the red pigment phycoerythrin The combination of phycobilin and chlorophyll produces the characteristic blue-green colour from which these organisms derive their popular name Because of the other pigments however many species are actually green brown yellow black or red Most cyanobacteria do not grow in the absence of light they are obligate phototrophs however some can grow in the dark if there is a sufficient supply of glucose to act as a carbon and energy source In addition to being photosynthetic many species of cyanobacteria can also fix atmospheric nitrogen--that
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