Golden algae are unicellular organisms assigned to the class Chrysophyceae. These organisms are mostly found in areas of freshwater such as lakes, rivers and ponds. Generally, golden algae are observed as free swimming organisms, while some species exhibit colonial behavior. Golden algae are considered vital to an ecosystem's food chain, as they are the primary food source for vital organisms and their presence contributes to the abundance of higher food sources in the chain.
Golden algae creates and stores its own food by the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae and certain forms of bacteria convert carbon dioxide into organic material using the energy in sunlight. The organic material is stored in the bonds of sugar and is used by golden algae as a food source. The process of photosynthesis is critical in the food chain of all life on earth, as the organisms that convert the light energy to glucose are a food source for herbivores that are in turn a food source for others.
The majority of golden algae reproduce by means of cell division or the production of a zoospore. Cell division or fragmentation is the process by which an entirely new organism is produced in some unicellular organisms. A zoospore is an asexual organism that moves by use of a tail-like projection or flagellum.
Though a number of organisms classified as golden algae can be found in marine waters, the majority of golden algae occupy freshwater environments. The organisms are extremely important to the ecosystem of freshwater areas because they act as the primary food source for the abundant zooplankton that inhabit those bodies of water. The zooplankton is then consumed by larger organisms as a vital link in the ecosystem's food chain.