Know Your Diatoms

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…

New algae strain for desert farming

Biologists from Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates have engineered a new form of microalgae that can grow rapidly in desert conditions, a discovery they claim could be used to sustainably produce biofuels, animal feed and other bio-based products in otherwise barren environments. The researchers set out…

Diatoms indicating the future

Peter Rüegg writes for Phys.org that, during their rapid growth cycle, diatoms absorb huge amounts of trace elements and nutrients from the surface water layer, especially silicon to form their shells, and zinc, which plays a vital physiological role in their development. The heavy depletion of nutrients caused by the…

In Praise of Diatoms

As you contemplate your holiday decorations, consider diatoms. Algae kaleidoscopes were among the many creatively biological ways that Victorian scientists entertained themselves. Using the end of a piece of hair, they moved tiny diatoms on a slide, arranging them into beautiful, symmetrical patterns…

Algae helping forensic teams catch criminals

Kirstie R Scott, of University College London Centre for the Forensic Sciences and the Environmental Change Research Centre writes in com about how algae are being used to solve crimes and track down criminals. Microscopic algae, particularly diatoms, can be picked up from virtually anywhere there is water — seas, lakes…

Pond Scum Close Up

A little visual entertainment this time with fresh water diatoms, other forms of algae, and bacteria from a swamp – filmed in 1080p HD using Differential Interference Contrast microscopy courtesy of MartinMicroscope.com…

Researching the enormous strength of diatoms

Lori Dajose writes in PhysOrg that researchers in the lab of Julia Greer, professor of materials science and mechanics in Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science, have recently found that diatoms have the highest specific strength — the strength at which a structure breaks with respect to its density…

GE algae kills cancer cells, saves healthy ones

Hannah Osborne writes in the International Business Times that algae has been genetically engineered to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. The algae nanoparticles, created by scientists in Australia, were found to kill 90% of cancer cells in cultured human cells. The algae were also successful at killing cancer…

Marine bacteria boost growth of diatoms

University of Washington oceanographers have found that diatoms — the intricately patterned single-celled algae that exist throughout the world’s oceans — grow faster in the presence of bacteria that release a growth hormone known to benefit land plants. The study, published online May 27 in Nature, uses genetic and…

New methods for genetically engineering diatoms

Scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit genomic research organization in La Jolla, California, have published a paper outlining new synthetic biology methods to manipulate diatoms. The paper titled, “Designer diatom episomes delivered by conjugation,” was published April 21st in Nature Communications…

OSU researchers combine diatoms and nanoparticles

Oregon State University researchers are combining diatoms, a type of single-celled photosynthetic algae, with nanoparticles to create a sensor capable of detecting miniscule amounts of protein…

Using diatoms to protect grain exports

University of Adelaide researchers are using nanotechnology and the fossils of diatoms to develop a novel chemical-free and resistance-free way of protecting stored grain from insects…

Professor wins award for book on diatoms

Peter Siver, the Becker Professor of Botany at Connecticut College, has won the 2013 Gerald Prescott Award from the Phycological Society of America (PSA) for his book “Diatoms of North…

Researchers replace nanodevices with diatoms

Algae are cheap and easily available, so replacing costly nanodevices with them in interferometry experiments would be beneficial, according to the researchers…

Cellectis engineering genome of diatoms for biofuel

At the recent “Molecular Life of Diatoms” meeting in Paris, France, genome engineering specialists, Cellectis, announced that they have successfully used engineered nucleases to genetically…

Algae 101 Part Four: What are Algae’s Competitive Advantages?

Nano-sized, single-celled algae are among Earth’s earliest life forms. They have been surviving in many of Earth’s harshest environments for 3.7 billion years. Algae’s simplicity enables these plants to…