Research unlocks secrets of iron storage in algae

New research shows that phytoplankton iron storage strategies may determine which species thrive in changing oceans and impact marine food webs, according to a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...

New dataset expands understanding of Arctic Spring Bloom

Understanding how the ocean works is like putting together a million-piece puzzle. There are many questions; finding answers takes time, resources, and opportunity. But even when scientists believe they know how the pieces ...

Sex or food? Decision-making in single-cell organisms

Unicellular diatoms are able to adapt their behavior to different external stimuli based on an evaluation of their own needs. This was discovered by scientists of the Friedrich Schiller University and the Max Planck Institute ...

Enhancing solar power with diatoms

Diatoms, a kind of algae that reproduces prodigiously, have been called "the jewels of the sea" for their ability to manipulate light. Now, researchers hope to harness that property to boost solar technology.

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Diatoms (Greek: διά (dia) = "through" + τέμνειν (temnein) = "to cut", i.e., "cut in half") are a major group of eukaryotic algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular, although they can exist as colonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons (e.g. Fragillaria), fans (Meridion), zigzags (Tabellaria), or stellate colonies (Asterionella). Diatoms are producers within the food chain. A characteristic feature of diatom cells is that they are encased within a unique cell wall made of silica (hydrated silicon dioxide) called a frustule. These frustules show a wide diversity in form, some quite beautiful and ornate, but usually consist of two asymmetrical sides with a split between them, hence the group name. Fossil evidence suggests that they originated during, or before, the early Jurassic Period. Diatom communities are a popular tool for monitoring environmental conditions, past and present, and are commonly used in studies of water quality. Scientists specializing in their study are sometimes called diatomists.

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