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an order of brown algae of the group Isogen-erataephyceae. The algae can be microscopic, small and filiform, branching, or bushy, as for example, the family Ectocarpaceae. Some are creeping and crustlike, such as the family Myrionema-taceae. The filament consists of one row of cells, each containing one or several chloroplasts. In contrast to the Heterogeneratae-phyceae, the gametophyte and sporophyte are morphologically similar. Either can fall out of the cycle of development or appear once in several generations. Sexual reproduction is isogamous, anisogamous, and nonspecialized. Parthenogenesis is common. The Ectocarpales are found in oceans throughout the world.