Diatom Species Stock Video Footage


Diatoms (diá-tom-os 'cut in half', from diá, 'through' or 'apart' and the root of tém-n-ō, 'I cut'.) are a major group of algae, specifically microalgae, found in the oceans, waterways and soils of the world. Living diatoms number in the trillions: they generate about 20 percent of the oxygen produced on the planet each year, take in over 6.7 billion metric tons of silicon each year from the waters in which they live, and contribute nearly half of the organic material found in the oceans. The shells of dead diatoms can reach as much as a half mile deep on the ocean floor, and the entire Amazon basin is fertilized annually by 27 million tons of diatom shell dust transported by east-to-west (easterly) transatlantic winds from the bed of a dried up lake once covering much of the African Sahara. Diatoms are unicellular: they occur either as solitary cells or in colonies, which can take the shape of ribbons, fans, zigzags, or stars. Individual cells range in size from 2 to 200 micrometers. In the presence of adequate nutrients and sunlight, an assemblage of living diatoms doubles approximately every 24 hours by asexual multiple fission the maximum life span of individual cells is about six days. Diatoms have two distinct shapes: a few (centric diatoms) are radially symmetric, while most (pennate diatoms) are broadly bilaterally symmetric. A unique feature of diatom anatomy is that they are surrounded by a cell wall made of silica (hydrated silicon dioxide), called ... Learn more about Diatom

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