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Mixed Diatoms, 400X w.m.
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are among the most common types of phytoplankton. Diatoms are unicellular, although they can formcolonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons (e.g. Fragilaria), fans (e.g. Meridion), zigzags (e.g. Tabellaria), or stars (e.g. Asterionella). The first diatom formally described in scientific literature, the colonial Bacillaria paradoxa, was found in 1783 by Danish naturalist Otto Friedrich Mller. Diatoms belong to a large group called the heterokonts, including both autotrophs (e.g., golden algae, kelp) and heterotrophs (e.g., water moulds). Their yellowish-brown chloroplasts are typical of heterokonts, having four membranes and containing pigments such as the carotenoid fucoxanthin.