STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Diatoms. Animated coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a variety of diatoms. Diatoms may be extremely abundant in both freshwater and marine ecosystems; it is estimated that 20% to 25% of all organic carbon fixation on the planet is carried out by diatoms. This is possible because they contain chlorophyll. Diatoms are a major food resource for marine and freshwater microorganisms and animal larvae, and are a major source of atmospheric oxygen. A unique feature of diatom cells is that they are enclosed within a cell wall made of silica (hydrated silicon dioxide) called a frustule.
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