11 Single Cell Plant Examples: Detailed Explanations and Images

Unicellular organism is also defined as the single celled organism. It is a creature that comprises of only a single cell which is different from a multicellular creature that contains many or multiple cells.

A plant single cell is referred to as that one plant cell that consists of unique traits as compared to its surrounding cells, which depend on its developmental stage, specific reaction towards environmental stresses, molecular heterogeneity, etc.

These single cell plants are basically the green algae that have chloroplast in them. We will discuss a few single cell plant examples here. These are species of different single celled plants that has different genus:

The above mentioned organisms fall under the division of Chlorophyta of the group of green algae. The single celled plants only fall under the category of green algae.

Living creatures on this plant is categorized into major groups- prokaryotic organisms and eukaryotic organisms. All the prokaryotes are unicellular in nature and are divided into classes like bacteria and archaea. Whereas eukaryotes are mainly multicellular in nature.

But eukaryotes can also be unicellular sometimes, for example, unicellular fungi, protozoa, and unicellular algae. Many multicellular creatures have a life-cycle stage that is unicellular in nature. Gametes, for example, are reproductive unicells for multicellular organisms.

Below we will discuss the different types of single cell plant examples.

Single cell plant examples:

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii fall under the genus of Chlamydomonas. It is a green colored alga which has a only one cell and has a diameter of around 10 micrometres that can swim with the help of two flagella. It consists of a cell wall which is made up of glycoproteins those are rich in hydroxyproline. The cell wall also contains a large chloroplast that is of cup shape, a pyrenoid which is also large in size and an eyespot which helps in sensing the light.

The vegetative cells present in this species are haploid in nature. It has 17 tiny chromosomes. During the process of nitrogen starvation, these vegetative cells divide to form gametes that are haploid as their character. There are two types of mating procedures. Both the procedures are similar in emergence and thus are called isogamous. These are defined as mt+ and mt-containing regions that have the ability to fuse together to give rise to a zygote that is diploid in nature.

single cell plant examples
Image Credit: Cross section of Chlamydomonas reinhardtiiWikipedia

The zygote does not consist of any flagella. In the soil, it acts as a hibernating or dormant version of the species, and in the presence of light, the zygote goes through the process of meiosis and delivers four flagellated haploid cells that help in resuming the vegetative life cycle.

Caulerpa taxifolia

Among all the green algae, Caulerpa is the name of genus of seaweeds that belong to the family of Caulerpaceae. They are somewhat different because though they contain a single cell but comprises of several nuclei. This chararcteristic feature makes the one of the largest single cells on this planet. Caulerpa species may include- Caulerpa prolifera, Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa.

Caulerpa taxifolia is a type of green seaweed. This kind of algae belongs to the genus Caulerpa. It can be found in the tropical seas of the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Indian Ocean. The likeness of its leaf-like lobes to those of the yew gave origin to the name of the species taxifolia, for example in Taxus.

Caulerpa taxifolia has a light green color. It consists of stems called stolons and is found on the floor of the sea. They may rise to a height of around 20 cm to 60 cm. C. taxifolia may sometimes get tangled in fishing gear and boat propellers. Mechanical removal, chlorine poisoning, or salt treatments are all options for controlling C. taxifolia.

Acetabularia acetabulum

Acetabularia acetabulum is the name of a species of green alga that belongs to the family of Polyphysaceae. These species can be found in the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of about one to two metres. This alga sticks to the sea floor, which helps of its root like structures called rhizoids.

This organism is made up of only one cell and has a single nucleus, which is located at the bottom of the stem. It consists of a cap which, when expanded, the nucleus separates once by the process of meiosis. This takes place when the nucleus has gone through the division several times by the procedure of mitosis, thus giving rise to numerous “secondary” nuclei that are haploid in nature.

This is a unicellular alga whose every frond is developed from a large single cell that contains numerous million of chloroplasts. In the daytime, they are continuously moving so that they can expose themselves to receive maximum amount of light, thus the green stems occur to be darker. But at night, they form clusters and the green stems appear to be pale.

In developmental biology, Acetabularia acetabulum has been used as a model organism. Acetabularia acetabulum’s principal reserve polysaccharide is starch, which is found in the form of granules within the stroma of the chloroplast. The sea slug Elysia timida is one of the predators of Acetabularia acetabulum.

Tetraselmis suecica

Tetraselmis is the name of the genus of phytoplankton. This is also green algae, which falls under the order of Chlorodendrales. They are identified by their extremely green chloroplasts. They have flagella in their cell bodies; pyrenoid is present inside the chloroplast and a scale-produced thecal wall.

Species that belong to this genus are mainly found in both the fresh water and marine ecosystems all around the globe. Because of their photosynthetic character, their habitat area is primarily restricted by water depth.

As a result, if adequate resources and light are accessible for net photosynthetic production, they may exist in a variety of aquatic situations. The species of Tetraselmis have been shown to be very useful for both industrial and research purposes.

Tetraselmis suecica is one of its species, which is a marine green alga. It consists of single cells that are mobile. These cells are visible under the observation of a light microscope up to a range of concentrations of one million cells per milliliter. This species can be cultivated for aquaculture in the form of foodstock. It is a motile chlorophyte and contains a high amount of lipid content.

Valonia ventricosa

Valonia ventricosa are also known as sailor’s eyeballs or bubble algae. It is a species of algae that can be seen in the oceans of both tropical and subtropical areas all over the world. This species belongs to the phylum of Chlorophyta. It is one of the largest known unicellular organisms.

As it belongs to the phylum Chlorophyta, it is obvious that they contain chlorophyll in their cells, and thus they are able to perform photosynthesis. Valonia ventricosa has a coenocytic structure along with numerous chloroplasts and nuclei.

This organism comprises a large vacuole that is located in the centre and has a multilobular structure, that is, lobules extending from the centre of a spheroid area. It has a peripheral cytoplasm and its membrane is covered by the cell wall, which has a thickness of about 40 nm only. Valonia ventricosa usually grows individually, but sometimes, in rare cases, it can also grow in groups.

single cell plant examples
Image Credit: Valonia ventricosaWikipedia

They usually appear in the tropical and subtropical regions of the tidal zones, such as south to Brazil, the Indo-Pacific, north through Florida and the Caribbean. They can be found in every ocean on the planet, and they often live in coral shards. The maximum depth of viability that has been observed is around 80 metres, that is, 260 feet.

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Chlorella autotrophica

Chlorella autotrophica, or Chorella sp., is a species of euryhaline, which is a unicellular microalga that falls under the division of Chlorophyta. They are mostly present in brackish waters.

The species is classified as an exclusive autotroph since it is unable to utilise organic carbon material as a food source. It’s sometimes mistaken for a Chlorella vulgaris variation.

C. autotrophica can be used for many purposes. The species has been used in rearing bivalves as a source of feedstock; it can also be fried in aquaculture, which is a source of the amino acid named L-Proline.

Due to its propensity to collect triglycerides during nitrogen starvation, the algae species is also a viable feedstock for biodiesel production.

Pinnularia opulenta

Pinnularia is the name of the genus of algae that is more specifically, a type of diatom. It is primarily a freshwater alga and is generally present in moist soil and in ponds. They can also be seen in estuaries, sediments, oceans, and springs. The most widely used measure of this genus’s members is 40 cm (that is, 1.25 feet) under water at a temperature of 5 °C (that is, 41 °F).

Pinnularia are unicellular creatures with elongated elliptical shapes. Pectic compounds on a stiff silica framework make up the majority of their cell walls. Thecae are two sections that make up their walls (or less formally, valves). The epitheca refers to the bigger outer valve, while the hypotheca refers to the smaller inner valve. A mucilaginous layer surrounds the cell.

The cytoplasm is structured in layers that mimic the structure of the cell walls. The nucleus is supported in the middle of a huge central vacuole with the help of a transverse cytoplasmic bridge.

Two chloroplasts are found that line the sides of the cells. They consist of two chlorophylls, namely, chlorophyll a and chlorophyll c, and also some pigments such as fucoxanthin and beta-carotene. The cytoplasm also comprises chrysolaminarin and a few volutins.


Peridinium is a genus of motile, marine and freshwater dinoflagellates. Peridinium species may include- Peridinium balticum (Levander), Peridinium digitale and Peridinium cinctum.  

Their morphology is regarded as typical of armoured dinoflagellates, and their shape is frequently depicted in dinoflagellate structural illustrations. Most of the Peridinium are either circular or oval in shape. They have a range of colors that starts from green to yellow or brown. Their size may vary from around 0.01 to more than 0.1 mm (that is, 0.0004–0.004 inch) in diameter.

The cell consists of a theca, which is the tough outer covering of the cell. This is classified into two parts, an epitheca and a hypotheca, which are more or less the same in size and are divided by a huge cutting which is known as the cingulum, also called girdle.

Peridinium is a huge genus that includes small to medium dinoflagellates, some of which are photosynthetic, but not all of them. Apparently a few photosynthetic species are capable of forming large blooms (also known as the “red tides”). Some peridinium seem to be entirely autotrophic, relying solely on photosynthesis for nutrition and energy.

Navicula is the name of a genus that has diatom algae that are in a boat shape. There are around 1,200 species of Navicula. The ability of Navicula diatoms is that they are able to creep about on one another and on rough surfaces like microscope slides. Navicula species may include Navicula bullata, Navicula tripunctata, and Navicula oblonga.

Navicula diatoms can reproduce without their parents being fused together. They reproduce by forming two new valves inside the frustules of the parent. The protoplast of each new cell is now trapped within one old and one new valve as the contents of the cell divide and separate.

Valves are lanceolate and circular, with slightly subrostrate apices and unprotracted apices. The axial region is smaller. The core portion is asymmetrically shaped and tightly expanded. The raphe is filiform and linear, with proximal ends that are minimally extended.

Bacillaria paxillifer

Bacillaria is a diatom genus that belongs to the family of Bacillariaceae. Bacillaria species may include- Bacillaria paradoxa and Bacillaria paxillifer.

Bacillaria paxillifer is a colonial diatom species that belongs to the family named Bacillariaceae. Colonies of this diatom have the ability to move. Members consist of long axes that are parallel to each other. The members glide against one another in a coordinated manner, allowing the structure to stretch and compress.

This genus is photosynthetic in nature and reproduces both with and without the parents getting fused to one another. In stacked colonies, cells are flattened and have the ability to move and slide along one another.

In girdle view, when present in colonies, cells are rectangular in shape, and in valve view, they are lanceolate in form. Raphe goes from pole to pole and is somewhat keeled.

There are two huge plate-like chloroplasts, one at either end of the cell. The nucleus is in the centre of the cell. The color of the cells is yellow-brown. Fibulae are tough, and the valve surface is coated in transverse parallel structures, which are known as striae.

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Chaetoceros furcellatus

The genus Chaetoceros was first discovered by Ehrenberg in the year 1844. Chaetoceros species may include Chaetoceros furcellatus, Chaetoceros angularis, and Chaetoceros intermedius.

The Arctic neritic diatom, Chaetoceros furcellatus, belongs to the Chaetoceros genus. Finding the extremely distinctive resting spores is the easiest way to identify this species. In the Barents Sea, C. furcellatus is a popular and essential species. Cells are linked together to form long, slightly rounded strands.

Although Chaetoceros is mainly a marine genus, there have been reports of species in American inland waters. It is a kind of centric diatom with a silica-based frustrule or cell wall that consists of a long, thin spine known as setae.

The spines link the frustules collectively, forming a cell colony. Colonies of cells can create looped, coiled, linear, or curved chains. The size of a cell can vary from 10 um to 50 um.

Milanckona Das

Hi, I am Milanckona Das and pursuing my M. Tech in Biotechnology from Heritage Institute of Technology. I have a unique passion for the research field. I am working in Lambdageeks as a subject matter expert in biotechnology. LinkedIn profile link- https://www.linkedin.com/in/milanckona-das-9368981ab

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