Enteromorpha, Laminaria, Undaria, Hizikia, Porphyra, and other edible seaweeds that frequently appear on Japanese dining dishes are members of "algae." At the rocky areas of sea coasts, you can notice the "seaweeds" with green, brown, red and all sorts of colors growing everywhere under water or just below your feet. The illustration on the left is a red alga Ptilota filicina. Algae come in all sizes ranging from tiny epiphytic species of only about one centimeter to more than twenty meters of Laminaria longissima growing against the raging waves of the east coasts of Hokkaido, Japan. And there are even more huge seaweeds called "Giant Kelp" that reach up to a hundred meters long! Algae live not only under the sea but also under freshwaters. You can find a muddle of freshwater algae such as Spirogyra in ponds and rice fields. Don't worry if you can't see anything with your naked eyes, you can peek at the microalgae world of diatoms with artistic ornamentation of thecal valves, dinoflagellates and Euglena swimming everywhere in the water through microscopes.
Algae with so many life forms around us all possess chloroplasts inside their cells and carry out photosynthesis under water to make living. According to the fossile records, the primitive forms of algae appeared approximately three billion years ago on the ancient earth and have continued to evolve since then. This long process of evolution has led to today's wide diversity of algae in their structures of chloroplasts, photosynthetic pigmentation, life cycles and reproduction. Our passion and interests toward the algae for studying diversity and evolution will never burn out!
In our laboratory, we deal with these algae and approach toward them with wide variety of techniques such as morphological and ultrastructural observations, culture experiments, crossing experiments, analyses of biochemical compositions and molecular phylogenetic analyses. Our goal is to clarify characteristics of "species", perceive the diversity of algae and uncover the systematic relationships between taxonomic groups.