Spirogyra (Green Algae)
Spirogyra is a genus of filamentous green algae of the order Zygnematales, named for the helical or spiral arrangement of the chloroplasts that is diagnostic of the genus. It is commonly found in freshwater areas, and there are more than 400 species of Spirogyra in the world. Spirogyra measures approximately 10 to 100μm in width and may stretch centimeters long.
Spirogyra is unbranched with cylindrical cells connected end to end in long green filaments. The cell wall has two layers: the outer wall is composed of cellulose while the inner wall is of pectin. The cytoplasm forms a thin lining between the cell wall and the large vacuole it surrounds. Chloroplasts are embedded in the peripheral cytoplasm; their numbers are variable (as few as one). The chloroplasts are ribbon shaped, serrated or scalloped, and spirally arranged, resulting in the prominent and characteristic green spiral on each filament. Each chloroplast contains several pyrenoids, centers for the production of starches, appearing as small round bodies.
Spirogyra can reproduce both asexually and sexually. In asexual reproduction, fragmentation takes place, and Spirogyra simply undergoes intercalary mitosis to form new filaments.
Almost all green algae cells have chloroplasts. These contain chlorophylls a and b, giving them a bright green colour (as well as the accessory pigments beta carotene and xanthophylls), and have stacked thylakoids. All green algae have mitochondria with flat cristae. When present, flagella are typically anchored by a cross-shaped system of microtubules, but these are absent among the higher plants and charophytes. Flagella are used to move the organism. Green algae usually have cell walls containing cellulose, and undergo open mitosis without centrioles.
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For more information (background, pictures, experiments and references):
Algae K-12 Experiments & Background Information