Silica deposition by diatoms, a common component of the phytoplankton, has attracted considerable interest given the importance in ecology and materials science. There has recently been a great deal of research into the biological control of biosilicifcation, yet the in vivo physical and chemical effects have not been quantitatively investigated. We have grown the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana in batch culture at three temperatures (14o, 18o, and 23 °C). We observed three distinct temperature-dependent growth phases. The morphology of silica was investigated using scanning electron microscopy followed by image analysis and supervised learning. The silica in the valves of the same species showed different structures: a mesh-like pattern in silicon-rich cultures and a tree-like pattern in silicon-limited cultures. Moreover, temperature affected this silica pattern, especially in silicon-limited cultures. We conclude that cells grown at 14 °C and 18 °C divide more successfully in Si-limited conditions by developing a tree-like pattern (lower silicification).

Sci. Rep.

Javaheri, N., Dries, R., Burson, A., Stal, L. J., Sloot, P. M. A., & Kaandorp, J. A. (2015). Temperature affects the silicate morphology in a diatom. Sci. Rep., 5(Article number: 11652), 1–9. doi:10.1038/srep11652