Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of marine, filamentous, centric diatom (Skeletonema costatum). Some diatoms form chains of cells to become a filamentous colony. The filamentous diatom genus Skeletonema costatum is composed of individual cells that are centric (cylindrical) in shape and connect to each other by fine silica projections (spines). This species can often form large algal blooms called 'red tides' that can be detrimental to other marine life. Diatoms are microscopic, unicellular algae that are abundant in marine and fresh water. The body or frustule is composed of two halves which fit tightly together. The cell walls contain silica dioxide (glass) which are preserved in deposits known as diatomaceous earth. Diatoms occur in huge numbers in plankton and play an important role in marine and fresh water food chains. Magnification: x240 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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