Difference Between Algae and Plants (With Table)

Plants and algae are ecologically analogous in the ecosystem, and as autotrophs, they generate their own food.  Moreover, both plants and algae are photosynthetic organisms. They’re eukaryotes, which are multicellular organisms made up of cells with specialized tasks. They also share the same life cycle, which is known as alternation of generations. Despite their commonalities, algae and plants are not the same thing.

Algae vs Plants

The main difference between algae and plants is that Algae can either be unicellular or multicellular, whereas Plants are usually multicellular. As a result, algae are relatively simple organisms that live in the kingdom Protista, whereas plants are more complex organisms that live in the kingdom Plantae.

Algae are autotrophic organisms that can grow to be single-celled or multicellular. Such organisms develop their colonies underwater since there are no vascular bundles or structural changes. They may also drift underwater due to the presence of flagella, which allows for more movement.

Plants belong to the Kingdom Plantae, which has a wide range of species. All plants are multicellular, diverse organisms that obtain their food through chlorophyll and sunshine, and they are all autotrophs. Plants cannot be unicellular since they have several body parts such as roots, stalks, flowers, and so on.

Comparison Table Between Algae and Plants

Parameters of ComparisonAlgaePlants
ClassificationThese species belong to the Kingdom Protista which can be unicellular or multicellular.Plants are complex multicellular structures that belong to the Kingdom Plantae.
StructureThey do not have a complete root and shoot system, but they do have rhizoids that may connect to a surface.They have a root and shoot system that is clearly defined.
HabitatThey may be seen in a wide range of aquatic habitats. At times, it can also be seen on snow and land.They live largely on land, although they may sometimes be found in water.
Cellular CountAlgae can be multicellular or unicellular creatures.Plants are multicellular in nature.
MobilityThey are mobile creatures.They are immobile because their roots are attached to the soil.
StudyThe study of algae is known as phycology.Botany is a branch of science that studies plants.

What are Algae?

Algae are unicellular or multicellular eukaryotic autotrophs. Algae are vital living organisms that play a significant role in the world energy cycle. Algae have no specialized organs or cells. Unicellular, filamentous, and thallus algae are the three forms of algae. Only a few species of algae may be found on land, with the bulk of them located in aquatic settings. They can be free-floating or sessile in the aquatic environment.

Algae, which were formerly categorized as a plant kingdom sub-category, now belong to the Protista Kingdom. According to current research, there are over 320,500 different kinds of algae on the planet.They do not have real roots, stalks, or leaves, nor do they have a circulatory system to move nutrients and water throughout their systems.

They also come in a variety of forms and sizes. Algae have several important roles in the Earth’s atmosphere. Algae is accountable for setting up around half of the O2 and storing CO2 so that it does not enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, some algae are also used in the food business. Gelidium and Gracilaria are used to make agar, which is used to make ice cream and jellies. Chlorella and Spirulina are two more algae-based nutritional supplements that are frequently utilized.

What are Plants?

Plants are classified as multicellular, photosynthetic eukaryotes. Furthermore, they belong to the Plantae  kingdom. Plants may be located in many different environments and temperatures. Plants, for the most part, are highly vascular creatures. They have complex root and shoot systems composed of connective tissues that help with food and water transportation throughout the organism. These xylem and phloem bundles are critical for the movement of minerals plus water.

Plants are often found on land, although certain species, such as water lilies in freshwater resources and eelgrass in marine waters may also be found in water. Plants are classified into two categories: flowering plants and non-flowering plants.

Plants are said to be the most generous living creatures. It’s because they provide oxygen as well as food for humans and animals. The significance of plants, however, does not stop there. They are also in charge of taking carbon dioxide from the air and producing fresh air for humans to breathe. They play a vital role in the water and nitrogen cycles, respectively. They are the major source of food, and their presence is crucial to the survival of all living things.

Main Differences Between Algae and Plants

  1. Algae are Protista-classified organisms that can be unicellular or multicellular. Plants, on the other hand, are complex multicellular organisms that belong under the Kingdom Plantae.
  2. Because most algae are aquatic, they are located deep in the water, where they can readily float. These species can be seen on land as well as in the snow. Plants, on the other hand, are terrestrial organisms that are always attached to the ground surface. There are also some plants that may be found underwater.
  3. Algae include chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments in addition to the phycobilin component.
  4. Phycology is the scientific study of algae. Botany, on the other hand, refers to the study of plants.
  5. Algae have the potential to self-replicate and reproduce in a sporadic method. Plants, on the other hand, have a more complicated reproductive mechanism and use their organs for pollination.


The distinction between algae and plants is frequently misunderstood. Both organisms are autotrophs, meaning they make their own food and energy using sunlight. Even though they may seem to be incredibly similar at times, there are some significant distinctions between them.

Plants are multicellular creatures, but algae can be both unicellular and multicellular. Algae are mostly found underwater, whereas plants are found on land. In contrast to plants, they lack connective tissues, leaves, shoots, and roots. These distinctions between these species must be identified in order to fully comprehend each and avoid making the common error of mistaking one for the other.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019321610
  2. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.genet.41.110306.130134