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Know Your Diatoms

September 21, 2017

Diatoms are a major group of algae and are among the most common types of phytoplankton. Diatoms are unicellular organism, although they can form colonies. They have cell walls made of glass. Diatoms belong to the kingdom Protista. There are at least 100,000 species of diatoms that have been discovered.

Diatoms exist in large numbers in most bodies of water throughout the world. In fact, just one quart of seawater can contain millions of diatoms. Diatoms contribute enormous amounts of oxygen to our atmosphere. They are primary producers, create a very large food source in the ocean, are autotrophs and produce energy by photosynthesis.

Two basic forms of these organisms exist. Centrales have radial symmetry and are most often found in oceans and are wheel-shaped. They can be found drifting near the surface, sunlight and absorbing nutrients. Pennales tend to be elongated and many live in fresh water streams, swamps, ditches, or on the bottoms of shallow regions of oceans and estuaries.

Courtesy: MooMoo Math and Science

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