Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Diatom title graphic  


An Introduction to the Wonderful World of Diatoms

Diatoms. These microscopic organisms are as diverse as they are beautiful, and, in this introduction, you will be given the opportunity to garner a general understanding of these amazing organisms. An aesthetic appreciation of this group can be developed immediately... note that the header in these introductory pages was construed from four species of diatoms: Campylodiscus noricus (pink backdrop), Rhabdonema sp. (orange backdrop), Triceratium sp. (blue backdrop), and Himantidium pectinale (green backdrop). Happy exploring!

The Advent of Diatom Biology

In the second half of the 19th century, diatoms became a "hot topic" amongst biologists and non-scientists alike. The intricate beauty of these organisms encouraged biological study as well as artistic interpretation (yes! people actually arranged these microscopic organisms into patterns). There was much debate with respect to the taxonomy, terminology, mechanism of movement, reproduction, and many other aspects of diatom biology. Initially, culturing and maintaining live species of diatoms was difficult and resulted in slow progress. Towards the end of the 19th century, extensive field studies and cruises helped increase the knowledge of the ecology and biological significance of diatoms. Though much progress has been made in the last century, biologists continue to work towards a greater understanding of diatom biology.

What do YOU want to learn more about? Click on it and find out!

arrow1.gif (217 bytes) General Information: terminology, defining characteristics, macroscopic appearance, microscopic appearance, cell contents, & distribution

arrow1.gif (217 bytes) Growth & Reproduction

arrow1.gif (217 bytes) Silicon Use

arrow1.gif (217 bytes) Collection & Study

arrow1.gif (217 bytes) Biological Significance

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copyright Jennifer Shin 1999.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009