Diatoms

František Štěpánek
Pavel Kovačík
Marek Šoltys

Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular, although they can exist as colonies. A characteristic feature of diatom cells is that they are encased within a cell wall made of silica called a frustule. These frustules show a wide diversity in form, but are usually almost bilaterally symmetrical, hence the group name. Diatom communities are a popular tool for monitoring environmental conditions, past and present, and are commonly used in studies of water quality.

Calcined frustules of diatoms Diadesmis gallica

Calcined frustules of diatoms Diadesmis gallica

In our laboratory we deal with cultivation of culture Diadesmis gallica which creates bilaterally symmetrical shells in size around 10 μm. Our aim is to use these shells as reservoirs for active substances for delivery systems. This idea brings following basic challenges: i) Ability to cultivate diatoms in sufficient volume. Practically, it means construct a suitable reactor for continuous cultivation of diatoms, ii) Find the way how to encapsulate active substances into the shells of diatoms, iii) Release the encapsulated substances out of the shells.

Close-up image of Diadesmis gallica's frustule with visible hollow and porous structure

Close-up image of Diadesmis gallica’s frustule with visible hollow and porous structure

More images of our diatoms (click on FS for fullscreen):

Diatoms SEM images