The study of diatoms began in the 18th century. The name of the class Bacillariophyceae was derived from the genus Bacillaria Gmelin 1791, whereas "Diatom" refers to the genus Diatoma De Candolle 1805. Despite more than a century of devoted morphological and taxonomic investigations, electron microscopy, introduced to diatom research in the middle of the 20th century, revealed additional information. A réévaluation of the established classification systems and the current ideas and information on biogeography was required, and a new era of diatom investigations began.
Simonsen (1979) introduced a diatom system based on results from light and electron microscopy and constructed a key to the diatom families. Other ideas on classification, evolution, and critical evaluations at the higher taxonomic levels followed, based on the increasing amount of information (Cox, 1979; Round & Crawford, 1981,1984; Fryxell, 1983; Glezer, 1983; Nikolaev, 1984; Williams & Round, 1986, 1987), resulting in two partially diverging diatom systems (Glezer et al., 1988; Round et al., 1990).
identifying Marine Phytoplankton
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Publications summarizing the new information on diatom morphology as well as a revision of the classical identification literature were needed. To meet this requirement several diatom atlases, floras and handbooks were published during the past decade or so, most of them concentrating on a particular geographical region. Ricard (1987) constructed keys to families and genera with genus as the lowest rank, the genera being illustrated with light and electron micrographs of one or a few species of each. The diatom handbooks by Priddle & Fryxell (1985) and Medlin & Priddle (1990) both deal with polar species. The focus of the former is on some planktonic diatoms commonly recorded in the Southern Ocean. The latter, a more comprehensive handbook, includes the two polar regions and has an ecological as well as a taxonomic part with keys to species. The diatom atlas from India and the Indian Ocean region (Desikachary, 1986-1989) contains only light micrographs of the diatoms recorded in the area with no additional text, and the phytoplankton atlas by Delgado & Fortuflo (1991) has text as well as line drawings and scanning electron micrographs of diatoms from the Mediterranean.
The publications by Rivera (1981), Makarova (1988) and Rines & Har-graves (1988) have the character of monographs of the marine planktonic genera Thalassiosira (the former two publications) and Chaetoceros (the latter publication), although based on material from specific geographical areas. The investigation of Rhizosolenia, a third important marine planktonic genus, by Sundstrom (1986) is based on material from almost all oceans, and the Unesco Manual on Harmful Microalgae has a chapter on this category of diatoms (Hasle &c Fryxell, 1995).
The monumental diatom volume by Round et al. (1990) differs from all the publications mentioned previously in content as well as size; it consists of sections on the biology of the diatoms, a summary of the introduced classification, and a generic atlas. Linnaeus, a catalogue and expert system for the identification of protistan species (Estep et al., 1992), includes diatoms, and the catalogue by Gaul et al. (1993) lists papers containing electron micrographs of diatoms and is thus useful to those studying the fine structure of the diatom frustule.
Despite these recent publications, teaching experience tells us that there is still a need to fill in respect to the global aspect of the identification of marine planktonic diatoms at the specific level. We hope to fill a part of this need with this chapter.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS Systematics: Class Bacillariophyceae in the division Chromophyta. Closest relatives: Chrysophyceae and Xanthophyceae. (See Round et al., 1990, p. 122.)
Number of species: 10,000-12,000, approx 50,000 (Round & Crawford, 1984, p. 169), or in excess of 100,000 (Round & Crawford, 1989, p. 574); or in marine plankton approx 1400-1800 (Sournia et al., 1991, p. 1085).
Level of organization: Unicellular, often in colonies. Cell covering: Siliceous wall and organic layer. Flagella: Male gametes with one flagellum with stiff hairs. Chloroplasts: Lamellae with three thylakoids, girdle lamella, and four membranes around the chloroplast. Pigments: Chlorophylls a and c, betacarotene, fucoxanthin, diatoxanthin, and diadinoxanthin. Mitochondria: Tubular type. Storage products: Chrysolaminarin and oil. Motility: Present in pennate diatoms with a raphe.
Biotopes: Marine and freshwater, plankton, benthos, epiphytic, epizoic (e.g., on whales and crustaceans), endozoic (e.g., in foraminifera), endophytic (e.g., in seaweed), on and in sea ice, and "air diatoms."
Geological age: Centrics: Jurassic (a few species) and Early Cretaceous (Gersonde & Harwood, 1990). Araphid pennates: Late Cretaceous (Medlin et al., 1993, with references). Raphid pennates: Middle Eocene (Medlin et al., 1993, with references).
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