The Diatom: a friendly algae of the planet

The Diatom: a friendly algae of the planet

Did you know that diatom, a sedimentary rock made up of microscopic algae and volcanic ash, generates 20% of the oxygen produced on planet earth every year, absorbing billions of tons of silicon from the waters in which it lives?

Yes, this tiny seaweed is really precious! So precious that its shells, once deposited on the bottom of the seas and oceans, also become natural products for agriculture. In Italy it is distributed by BIOYVY

Where can it be found?

Diatom aka diatomaceous earth is a compound made of fossilized shells of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms, a class of microscopic unicellular algae, which live isolated or united in colonies in fresh or marine waters, with a characteristic siliceous shell. Diatomaceous earth is mainly extracted from old lake and river beds. They are mainly distributed in the aquatic environment: in the sea, in brackish and freshwater environments (lakes, rivers, fountains) but can also be found on humid soils and in extreme environments (hypersaline lagoons, ice). Diatoms are an important component of both phytoplankton and microphytobenthos.

What is it for?

They are used in water quality studies.

Diatoms play an important ecological role due to their contribution to primary production and to their role in the food chain (in fact they represent an important food source for marine animals as much as plants are for terrestrial environments).

Diatomaceous earth is used for a variety of purposes, including water filtration, as a mild abrasive, in cat litter, agriculture, and cosmetics. However, the applications of diatoms go far beyond assessing water quality. Their fossil remains (of marine and freshwater origin), known as diatomaceous earth, have many material applications, from insulation, to abrasives, to filtration and are also a source of biomass.

Diatom nanotechnology has great potential for applications in many research areas, such as the design of complex drug vehicles, biosensors. Diatoms are likely to contribute to the solution of several genome-related issues.

Their ability to produce lipids through photosynthesis has drawn considerable attention to the use of diatoms as renewable biofuel sources and as a source of Omega-3 oils as dietary supplements.

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