Chaetoceros diatoms, light micrograph

Chaetoceros diatoms, light micrograph

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Credit: WIM VAN EGMOND/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Differential interference contrast (DIC) light micrograph of Chaetoceros debilis colonial marine diatoms. The cells of this species form a helical chain and have radiating spines (setae). The tiny white cells are Phaeocystis swarmers. They attach to diatoms and then grow into large spherical colonies dwarfing the diatoms. Diatoms are a group of photosynthetic, single-celled algae containing about 10,000 species. They form an important part of the plankton at the base of the marine and freshwater food chains. The characteristic feature of diatoms is their intricately patterned, glass-like cell wall, or frustule. The frustule often has rows of tiny holes, known as striae. Magnification: x250 when printed 10 centimetres wide.

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