Growing dominance of diatom algae in the Pearl River estuary

It is a common perception that waters close to population would be more polluted than those offshore or at higher latitudes.  However, researchers from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) found that ...

Rise of the diatoms—a new timeline

Diatoms—tiny phytoplankton that are responsible for a fifth of all energy converted into matter by plants—may have become important much earlier in the development of Earth's ocean ecosystems and carbon cycle than previously ...

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Diatom

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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