That's an easy question for me. The smallest
green plants are blue green algae, and they have
only 1 cell. - Oops! I was wrong. Wikipedia says
"blue green algae" are actually a kind of bacteria
that get energy from photosynthesis. But they're
not plants, because plants and animals all have a
nucleus in every cell. Bacterial cells don't have
Here's one of the answers from google.com for
"smallest green plant":
Fresh Water Green Algae (Chlamydomonas genus).
They are unicellular - the size of only 1 cell
(less than 25 micrometers long)! They have a
nucleus, thylakoids (special membranes inside the
cell) and chloroplasts - which is where
photosynthesis takes place. It is believed that
Chlamydomonas is the ancestor to green plants.
Chlamydomonas can swim, with its 2 long
flagella. I just heard a scientific talk about
Chlamydomonas flagella, and the speaker said the
swimming is sort of like a breast stroke. They
were doing research about how well Chlamydomonas
grew, if the 2 flagella were different lengths.
But 'Chlamydomonas' might not the best answer,
either, because Wikipedia says plants are
multicellular organisms of the kingdom, Plantae.
Chlamydomonas and Paramecium and other 1-celled
organisms with a nucleus are in the kingdom
The next answer I find is that duckweeds are
the smallest flowering plants. I can't find
anything about smallest green plants - Plantae -
that don't flower. Here's a nice site with
pictures of duckweeds and tiny colored candy
sprinkles, which are about the same size:
On the other hand, the Tree of Life web project
says green algae are plants, so that brings me
back to Chlamydomonas as a good answer. Here's the
McCourt is the first person listed on that web
page, and we worked together at the National
Science Foundation a few years ago! I've copied
him on this email.
Can you grow the smallest green plant? I think
it would be hard to grow it without getting
contamination from bacteria and other organisms
that would kill it, though maybe you could get a
'mixed culture' with the smallest green plant and
some other stuff. I think the answer is the same
for either Chlamydomonas or duckweed.
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