Diatom of the Month October 2021 – Better Together: Rhopalodiaceae team up with nitrogen-fixing bacteria to survive in freshwaters with low nutrients

Nitrogen is required for all living organisms to build proteins and nucleic acids (such as DNA and RNA). However, while nitrogen in its gaseous form makes up approximately 78% of our atmosphere, nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient in many environments, including about 75% of the ocean (Bristow et al. 2017). This is because most […]

Diatom of the Month September 2021 – Not every diatom acts the same: a bedtime story

I study the diversity of benthic diatoms, with a particular interest in the functional traits of species, such as size, mobility and nitrogen-fixing abilities, because they affect the way that ecosystems function. Please read the story below to find out why functional traits matter! Once upon a time, there was a little diatom who lived […]

Diatom of the Month August 2021 – Announcing an online workshop with the DOM community

The Diatom of the Month series of posts project has been running every month without interruption since 2015. DOM December 2019 made an extensive review of the first 4 years of the project, highlighting the diatom community’s desire for incorporating summaries of the latest diatom research, some Frequently Asked Diatom Questions, and marine diatoms posts. […]

Diatoms make the world happy: educational outreach using diatom-based activities in the classroom

Websites are a very useful tool for anyone seeking information. However, people who are unaware of diatoms or uninterested in them will not google for diatoms. To inform such people about diatoms and attract their interest requires deliberate and well-designed lessons. Many people and organizations want to disseminate information promoting a particular scientific field, especially […]

Towards biomonitoring 2.0: Comments on the applicability of diatom DNA metabarcoding in Mediterranean rivers

The difficulties in identifying diatoms based on their morphology have led to the pursuit of new methods that might make diatomists’ lives much easier. One of these methods is DNA metabarcoding of environmental samples and it is based on the identification of species through a short DNA region, coupled with high-throughput sequencing technology (HTS)—a method […]

Gomphonema clevei, oxygen and Lake Tanganyika, Africa

If anything is well known about Lake Tanganyika, it is its enormous volume, length, and depth. Yet, much less is known about the lake’s ecological history and the potential of diatoms to decipher it. The East African rift lake is the longest and second deepest lake in the world, containing about 16% of the world’s […]

Invisible to the naked eye but unique for Neotropical biodiversity

In this Diatom of the Month post we bring the topic of how organisms that are invisible to the naked eye contribute to regional biodiversity. In a recent open-access paper led by an international group of aquatic ecologists, my colleagues and I demonstrated the role of lake diatoms, unicellular siliceous organisms highly sensitive to water […]

Exploring new territories: sampling phytobenthos in large rivers

Freshwater phytobenthos comprises the algae that live on or are attached to surfaces of, for example rocks, macrophytes (vascular water plants) or sediment/sand grains of rivers and lakes (Figure 1). As primary producers, capable of generating organic compounds through photosynthesis, phytobenthic organisms are key elements of food webs. Phytobenthos is widely used to evaluate the […]

The last story for 2020: experiences from a remotely organized diatom workshop

2020 has been exceptional due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all know, most meetings, conferences and workshops were either cancelled, changed to online events, or postponed to next year or the unforeseeable future. Luckily, the 6th Nordic-Baltic diatom intercalibration and harmonization workshop, arranged by Maria Kahlert from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), […]

Lesotho’s Lake Letsie and Aulacoseira granulata

Lake Letsie is the largest natural freshwater lake in Lesotho (southern Africa) and is situated within the Letseng-la-Letsie Nature Reserve, at an altitude of 2400m.asl. Isolated mountain lakes, like many in the northern Hemisphere (e.g. Adams et al., 2019; Curtis et al., 2009; Larsen, 2000) are valuable sentinels of environmental change. Despite their remoteness from […]

Embarking on the “100 Diatom Genomes Project”

Diatoms, a class of microalgae, are found in nearly all marine and freshwater habitats and are the most species-rich algal class, with at least 100,000 species. They are important to the world’s eco-system and contribute to 20% of global carbon fixation and oxygen production. However, with genomic information from only about 10 diatoms, our ability […]

What diatoms have we covered in 2015-2020?

DOM #59 might down as the shortest Diatom of the Month ever, so please do take a good look at our performance so far! Let’s see what diatom ‘characters’ have been the protagonists of our stories so far. From November 2015 to September 2020, our DOM blog series talked about 31 different diatom genera in […]

Hidden Diversity in Pinnularia borealis, and Where it Lives

When we think about diatoms, we tend to imagine all kinds of aquatic habitats, ranging from oceans and coastal ecosystems, to lakes, rivers, ponds and puddles. However, soils and terrestrial mosses also harbor a large diversity of diatoms (Foets et al. 2020). Genera like Hantzschia, Luticola, Muelleria, Humidophila and Pinnularia thrive in terrestrial habitats around […]

Food vs. Sex

**Spoiler: read the entire post before feeling attracted of scrolling down to watching the cool movies of Seminavis movement in the videos section** I am a microbe psychologist, a description that I made up while curating the @biotweeps Twitter account. I study the behavior of unicellular organisms, particularly those that are photosynthetic and live in […]

What is behind a name? Cutting a long story short: how one of the most common Gomphonema species turned out to be – not a Gomphonema!

Around 2005 we, the Diatom Research Group at the BGBM Berlin, cooperated with colleagues from the Georg-August-University Göttingen who wanted to identify diatoms and cyanobacteria using a predecessor method, today called DNA metabarcoding. Since our group had not yet gone molecular, our task was to identify the few newly established cultures and to assist in […]