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See also: Algae
Electron microscope photo of a 10-micron-long diatom, Achnanthidium minutissimum (Kützing) Czarnecki.

Diatoms are single-celled algae living in water, encased in tiny glass shells. They are the bottom of the food chain. Since groundbreaking work by Ruth Patrick in the twentieth century, it is recognized that the mix of diatom populations in fresh water serves as a good indicator of the health of a body of water. Algae, including diatoms, account for nearly a quarter of the world's oxygen.

The intricacy and symmetry of diatom fossils are renowned for their beauty[1].

  1. Diatoms of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University slideshow published online by Google. Last access 4/17/2022.