diatom


noun

  1. any of numerous microscopic, unicellular, marine or freshwater algae of the phylum Chrysophyta, having cell walls containing silica.

noun

  1. any microscopic unicellular alga of the phylum Bacillariophyta, occurring in marine or fresh water singly or in colonies, each cell having a cell wall made of two halves and impregnated with silicaSee also diatomite
n.

1845, coined from Greek diatomos “cut in two,” from diatemnein “to cut through,” from dia- “through” (see dia-) + temnein “to cut” (see tome). So called because they typically appear to have been cut in half. Related: Diatomic.

  1. Any of various one-celled aquatic organisms of the class Bacillariophyceae that have hard bivalve shells (called frustules) composed mostly of silica, can perform photosynthesis, and often live in colonies. They make up a large portion of the marine plankton and are an important food source for many aquatic animals. The skeletal remains of diatoms are the main constituent of diatomite.

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