Caption: Moist soil pennate diatom (Navicula sp.). Diatoms represent about 25% of the plant biomass in the world. Found both in fresh water, salt water and moist soils these microscopic unicellular plants are important biomass and oxygen producers. Through their photosynthesis, greenhouse gasses are converted to organic material and they therefore play a decisive role in the global carbon dioxide circulation. When individual cells die they remain as siliceous (silica dioxide) cell walls and sink to the bottom of the lake, ocean or moist soil layers. Research has shown that the walls of fossil diatoms can give valuable information about past environment and climate conditions and serve as indicators for historical dating of sediments. Industries use the diatom silica walls in the form of diatomaceous earth for polishing material and for filtering wine and beer. In the field of nanotechnology the motility of such tiny cells and the silica cell wall design has been used as a pattern for car wheels. Omega-3 fatty acids of the diatoms have been found to benefit the nervous system.
Magnification*: x800
Type: SEM
Copyright 2008 Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
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