Monday, 19 January 2015
Bart Van de Vijver, researcher at Jardin Botanique de Meise (Meise Botanical Garden), has just described a 300th new species of diatom, single-celled micro algae enclosed within a cell wall made of silica, revealed the Botanical Garden in a press release on Monday. This 300th species, named Halamphora ausloosiana, is found in the Antarctic, as are 75% of species described by Bart Van de Vijver. But his research has also led him to describe diatoms on all 6 continents… and even 3 new species discovered at the Meise Botanical Garden itself.
Bart Van de Vijver’s next mission on the white continent will be his 8th, and is starting in less than a week. He is heading for Deception Island (South Shetland Islands) for a fortnight.
Diatoms are invisible to the naked eye and measure between 1/10th and 1/100th mm. They live in damp environments, fresh water, seas, and oceans, and are extremely numerous.
Just like plants, they use light to photosynthesise. Their role as ‘lungs’ make diatoms essential to life on earth.
Diatoms are also the largest group of algae in marine phytoplankton, and are therefore the first link in the entire underwater food chain.