Microscopy Primer
Light and Color
Microscope Basics
Special Techniques
Digital Imaging
Confocal Microscopy
Live-Cell Imaging
Microscopy Museum
Virtual Microscopy
Web Resources
License Info
Image Use
Custom Photos
Site Info
Contact Us

The Galleries:

Photo Gallery
Silicon Zoo
Chip Shots
DNA Gallery
Amino Acids
Religion Collection
Cocktail Collection
Screen Savers
Win Wallpaper
Mac Wallpaper
Movie Gallery

Differential Interference Contrast Image Gallery

Diatom Frustule

A frustule is the pillbox-like silica shell that encases a diatom. The various delicate and intricate designs that are characteristic of frustules make them particularly useful in microscopy, where they can be used to test the resolving power of an instrument.

Diatoms are unicellular phytoplankton that may be found in all of the Earth's aquatic environments. However, most species occur solely in areas that meet specific physical, chemical, and biological requirements. This habitat specificity is frequently utilized by ecologists to ascertain the state and quality of a body of water. Furthermore, the extensive fossil record of diatoms provides scientists with a unique historic record of changes in marine ecosystems.

Since frustules are unable to grow, the reproduction of diatoms is a curious and unusual process. The tiny organisms primarily proliferate asexually by cell division. In such instances, the overlapping halves of the frustule separate and each secretes a smaller lower half. Thus, one of the pair of diatoms remains approximately the size of the mother cell, while the other, which developed from the lower half of the original diatom, is smaller. Asexual reproduction dominates until a point is reached where the second cell cannot get any smaller, at which time sexual reproduction occurs in order to restore the cell line to its original dimensions.


Questions or comments? Send us an email.
© 1998-2022 by Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last modification: Friday, Nov 13, 2015 at 02:19 PM
Access Count Since April 22, 2003: 23655
For more information on microscope manufacturers,
use the buttons below to navigate to their websites: