Diatoms are almost everywhere where water and sunlight reach. Although they are extremely small in size, they can do many great things being one of the main primary producers which contributes to approximately 23% of global oxygen production. Most of the diatom research are being done in marine ecosystems to study the carbon fixation, as climate change is becoming a serious issue. Well, not to one he should not be named in science.
In freshwater biology, researchers are beginning to use diatoms as an indicator species to observe chronic stressors from various sources including chemicals, metal compounds, and climate change. According to the researchers including Morin et al., (2015) as these stressors accumulate members of the aquatic ecosystem become more vulnerable to additional disturbances that were fairly resistant to. The effect of these stressors are usually undetected until the accumulation gets too much to reverse.
Diatoms can be used like bacteria species that are used in biochemistry labs thanks to their short generation time and rather strong resistance to various stressors due to their silicate cell wall. Also, diatom diversity in an ecosystem is an indicator of whether the ecosystem is doing well or not. According to Morin et al. in 2015, it is found that the diversity and richness of diatom species as well as other aquatic species are significantly reduced where the accumulation of the stressors were high. The results are significant because now we have a detection method for the accumulation of stressors, and we can develop conservation plans to regenerate many aquatic ecosystems that have been affected. Thriving on Earth for millions of years, diatoms are still found to be useful in many aspects of biology.
Reference & Images
Morin, S., Bonet, B., Corcoll, N., Guasch, H., Bottin, M., & Coste, M. (2015). Cumulative stressors trigger increased vulnerability of diatom communities to additional disturbances. Microbial ecology, 70(3), 585-595.