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 Beauty and diversity of the diatoms    


The diatoms : microscopic algae

Diatoms are unicellular algae (many are around one twentieth of millimeter long), often in colonies. They possess chloroplasts and the same cellular organelles as other eukaryotic photosynthetic algae.

The hallmark of a diatom is its cell wall named frustule. This wall, heavily impregnated with silica, is highly differentiated. It consists always of two large intrically sculptured units called valves, together with several linking structures termed girdle elements. Each species is characterized by a particular shape and decoration of the valves.
According to the shape of the valves, the arrangement of the valve striae and the type of sexual reproduction, the diatoms are divided in centric diatoms and pennate diatoms. The two valves or only one of most of the pennate diatoms have a longitudinal slit, the raphe, interrupted in the middle by a bridge of silica. This raphe is either simple or as a complex structure, the raphe-canal, the interior of which is divided by bridges of silica named the fibulae.

After removal of the protoplasm and cleaning of the siliceous wall of the collected diatoms, coloured micrographs were taken. They allow to discover the beauty and the diversity of the diatoms :

Diatoms of the north-eastern atlantic ocean

Diatoms of the Mediterranean Sea : Sardinia, Crete, Dalmatia, Greece, Corfou, Menorca

Diatoms of the Lesser Antilles

Plastids of the diatoms

" Jewel-diatoms"

Return to marine diatoms