Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany


The I Never Heard of it page

This is supposed to be the basic diatom info page, so I won't get too technical. For more info, click on!

Diatoms are microscopic, single-celled or colonial plant-like organisms. Their cell walls are made of silicon dioxide, SiO2 (silica). Diatom shells, or tests, are typically punctuated with numerous holes, or areolae, visible in the light microscope. Diatoms are primary producers, carrying out photosynthesis using a large proportion of a the pigment fucoxanthin. Fucoxanthin is contained in one or several round or star-shaped chromatophores, where photosynthesis takes place. It gives diatoms a very nice golden-brown color, not unlike the honeyed grasses on California hillsides in summer.

Diatoms come in two flavors: the round Centrales, and long or pen-shaped Pennales.

Where to next?

Diatom Main Menu
Anatomy and Morphology
My Photo Library
copyright John Becker 1996.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009