New threat from ocean acidification emerges in the Southern Ocean

The oceans act as a carbon sink and have already absorbed more than 40% of anthropogenic carbon emissions. The majority of this CO2 has been taken up by the Southern Ocean making these waters hotspots of ocean acidification ...

Algae-killing viruses spur nutrient recycling in oceans

Scientists have confirmed that viruses can kill marine algae called diatoms and that diatom die-offs near the ocean surface may provide nutrients and organic matter for recycling by other algae, according to a Rutgers-led ...

Direct observation of giant molecules

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (MPQ) achieved to form giant diatomic molecules and optically detect them afterwards by using a high-resolution objective.

Hippos, the animal silicon pumps

The excrement of hippos plays an important role in the ecosystem of African lakes and rivers. Because there are fewer and fewer hippos, this ecosystem is in danger. In the long term, this could lead to food shortages at Lake ...

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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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