In the Garden, research on algae has been concentrated mainly on the taxonomy and distribution of freshwater algae and sometimes of brackish water algae. These studies followed two main paths: studies on African algal floras and vegetations and studies on freshwater algae from Belgium and surrounding countries. Occasional studies have involved other geographical areas: Iran, Kashmeer, Papua New Guinea, Kerguelen and Brazil. Nomenclature of algae has also been considered especially since P. Compère became a member and later the secretary of the permanent nomenclature committee for algae.
Study of the freshwater algae of BelgiumIn 1896, De Wildeman, working at the Garden, published the first algal flora of Belgium. From 1965 onwards P. Compère resumed work on the Belgian algal flora. One of the main aims is now the publication of the 'Flore pratique des algues d'eau doucce de Belgique'. This flora will include all freshwater algae reported from Belgium in the literature but also those found in recent Belgian collections deposited in BR. It includes descriptions, keys and illustrations of Belgian material. Four parts are already published:
- Pyrrhophyta, Raphidophyta, Euglenophyta
- Part 5 will be devoted to Desmids sensu lato: Mesotaeniaceae, Gonatozygaceae, Peniaceae and Closteriaceae.
Study of algal floras and vegetations of tropical AfricaCompère's studies on the algae from various aquatic and subaerial environments in tropical and subtropical Africa are largely based on the author's own collections or on samples collected by other researchers. The most important of these studies concerns the algal flora of Lake Chad and surrounding areas (Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria); it includes descriptions, keys and illustrations for more than 1400 taxa belonging to the blue-green algae, phytoflagellates, chrysophytes, diatoms, green algae and desmids. Algae have also been studied from the following regions: Ennedi (Chadian Sahara), Aïr mountains (Niger), Red Sea Hills (Sudan), Lybian desert (Libya, Sudan), Zambia (hot springs), Lake of Guiers and lower Senegal river (Senegal), Egypt (hypersaline waterbodies).
Current work includes a study of the algae from central and southern Senegal based on P. Compère’s collections as well as a study on aquatic and subaerial algae collected by H. Pohl in western Congo (lower Congo, Kinshasa and Equateur).