DIATOMS: STRANGER THAN SCI-FI !

Last week, I received an Email with a brief story by my former fellow naval cadet Joost Gieskes who had been asked to collect water samples in New Guinea for a Professor at Pretoria University (South Africa) specializing in diatoms.









(Click on thumbnails to enlarge)
Joost's help had been acknowledged and a dozen new species had been named after him. In turn, I want to thank Joost for his consent to use this illustration (right) showing some of the diatoms named after him. Also, to do my share of implementing the strange Dutch injunctive subjunctive: "Joost mag het weten", I gratefully dedicate this story to him!


SHAPES [(above); also see images]:
the main shapes are:
  • Centrales: circular (top left) and
  • Pennates: ship-shape (e.g.Navicula, 2nd left).
    Appropriately, "Joost's" diatoms were all ship-shape.
    In addition, they may be
  • colonial, like chains (third from top) or even "mat-like" (bottom left)

  • after Cholnoky, 19xx:
    'Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Diatomeenflora von Hollandisch-Neuguinea' in "NOVA HEDVIGA": Jour.Cryptogamic Sci

    Diatoms are microscopic uni-cellular plants with siliceous "frustules" or "valves". Imagine a pill-box to visualize the common circular form of diatoms illustrated above. The box and its lid are made of hydrous silicon-dioxide ("opal") and together contain the protoplasm and chlorophyl. Usually they are free floating, but they may also be benthic (bottom-dwelling) as long a there is light for them to photosynthesize.
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