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Diagnostic features

Colonial chlorophyte with large, hollow, spherical to ovoid mucilaginous colonies.  Cells are positioned in a single layer around the outside edge of the sphere, each cell with two flagella directed outwards, conferring motility to the colony (it is able to swim toward or away from light of different intensities). Each cell contains a green chloroplast with an eyespot; the size of the latter varies within the colony.  Colony may be >1 mm diameter, and visible to the naked eye. Smaller daughter colonies are visible inside large colonies.  The whole colony is best observed with a dissector microscope to avoid crushing it on a slide.

Typical habitats

Found in the plankton of lakes and ponds


Kingdom Plantae
Phylum Chlorophyta
Class Chlorophyceae
Order Volvocales
Family Volvocaceae
Common name Green algae