- Algae (Rhodophycota, Euglenophycota, Chromophycota, Chlorophycota)
Silva, Paul C. Department of Botany, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Moe, Richard L. Department of Botany, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Last reviewed:April 2021
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A class of nonflagellate unicellular algae, commonly called diatoms, with boxlike silicified walls. Members of the algal class Bacillariophyceae are commonly termed diatoms (Fig. 1). Diatoms range in maximum dimension from 4 μm (0.00004 in.) to more than 1 mm (0.04 in.). The diatom wall or frustule comprises several interlocking, usually elaborately sculptured, lightly or heavily silicified pieces overlying a thin polysaccharide layer. The two largest pieces are the upper and lower valves, which fit together like the top and bottom of a petri dish or shoe box. Between the valves (along the side or girdle of the cell), several smaller pieces—hooplike girdle bands—are intercalated. Depending upon which dimension is larger, that is, breadth or depth, a diatom tends to lie on the valve side or on the girdle side. See also: Algae; Polysaccharide
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