- 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:October 2019
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A class of nonflagellate unicellular algae, commonly called diatoms, with boxlike silicified walls. Diatoms range in maximum dimension from 4 micrometers to more than 1 millimeter. The diatom wall or frustule (Fig. 1) 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, breadth or depth, a diatom tends to lie on the valve side or on the girdle side.
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