Diatoms on the Move

December 09, 2014


Photographer: John Stetson 
Summary Authors: John Stetson; Stu Witmer

It’s amazing how single cell plants form colonies and move. Some algae, for example, use tiny flagella to scoot about. Others with soft cell walls may ooze along similar to an amoeba. The photo above shows a colony of diatoms, bacillaria paxillifera, moving in a series of five images. The frames were taken in under five seconds, an astonishing amount of movement for a plant. The plant cells move by sliding against each other, forming long chain- or ribbon-like structures from which they get their colloquial name of carpenter's ruler. Photo taken on September 29, 2014, at Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, Maine.