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Temporal range: 0.012-0.0 Ma
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Chaetoceros furcellatus
Scientific classification

(Ehrenberg, 1844)

See text.

Chaetoceros is probably the largest genus of marine planktonic diatoms with approximately 400 species described, although a large number of these descriptions are no longer[when?] valid. It is often very difficult to distinguish between different Chaetoceros species.[1] Several attempts have been made to restructure this large genus into subgenera and this work is still[when?] in progress.[2][3] However, most of the effort to describe species has been focused in boreal areas, and the genus is cosmopolitan, so there are probably many tropical species still undescribed.[4] Some species are known from the fossil record, from the Quaternary of Sweden. It is the type genus of its family.


The genus Chaetoceros were first described by Ehrenberg in 1844.
Cells are more or less rectangular in girdle view.
Cells are usually elliptical in valve view.
Opposite setae of adjacent cells touch near their origin.

Chaetoceros is primarily a marine genus, but there are also accounts of species within inland waters of the United States. It is a type of centric diatom that contains a frustrule or cell wall composed of silica that contain long, thin spins (setae). The spines connect the frustules together creating a colony of cells.[5] Cells colonies can form chains that are coiled, straight, or curved. Cell size can range from <10 um to 50 um.[6]

Environmental Ranges

Depth range (m): 0 - 470
Temperature range (°C): -1.952 - 29.468
Nitrate (?mol L-1): 0.053 - 34.037
Salinity: 18.564 - 37.775
Oxygen (mL L-1): 4.139 - 9.192
Phosphate (?mol L-1): 0.046 - 2.358
Silicate (?mol L-1): 0.648 - 92.735

Beneficial Effects

Due to its high growth rates and high lipid concentrations, research has been conducted to potentially use Chaetoceros as a biofuel.[5][8]

Studies suggest that colonies of Chaetoceros serve as an important food source within the water column and major carbon contributor to the benthic environment. Within the North Water, located in northern Baffin Bay, Chaetoceros has been reported to contribute about 91% of total phytoplankton cells serving as an important primary producer within this area. Therefore, contributing to oxygen production in the North Water.[9] Overall, phytoplankton contributes to over half of Earth's oxygen production.[10]


Chaetoceros blooms have been reported to reach concentrations of 30,100 cells/ml and can persist for multiple months.[9] Blooms are able to persist because individuals can survive at low nutrient levels. When present in large quantities, species with larger, thicker spines can damage organisms' gills.[11] Although, this defensive trait can help the species avoid predation and further promote bloom success.

Some currently accepted Chaetoceros species

See also

Viruses associated with Chaetoceros species


  1. ^ C.H. von Quillfeldt., (2001). Identification of Some Easily Confused Common Diatom Species in Arctic Spring Blooms. Botanica Marina Vol. 44: 375-389
  2. ^ Tomas, C. R., Hasle G. R., Syvertsen, E. E., Steidinger, K. A., Tangen, K., Throndsen, J., Heimdal, B. R., (1997). Identifying Marine Phytoplankton, Academic Press.
  3. ^ Rines J. E. B., Theriot E. C., (2003). Systematics of Chaetocerotaceae (Bacillariophyceae). I. A phylogenetic analysis of the family, Phycological research 51: 83-98.
  4. ^ J.E.B. Rines, P. Boonruang and E.C. Theriot., (2000). Chaetoceros phuketensis sp. nov. (Bacillariophyceae): a new species from the Andaman Sea. Phycological Research 48 (3): 161-168.
  5. ^ a b Spaulding, S., and Edlund, M. (2008). Chaetoceros. In Diatoms of the United States. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from
  6. ^
  7. ^ Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). 2012. Chaetoceros. Accessed 18 Mar 2012.
  8. ^ McGinnis, K. M; Dempster, T. A; Sommerfeld, M. R (1997). "Characterization of the growth and lipid content of the diatom Chaetoceros muelleri". Journal of Applied Phycology. 9 (1): 19-24. doi:10.1023/A:1007972214462.
  9. ^ a b Booth, B.C; Larouche, P; Bélanger, S; Klein, B; Amiel, D; Mei, Z.-P (2002). "Dynamics of Chaetoceros socialis blooms in the North Water". Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. 49 (22-23): 5003-25. Bibcode:2002DSRII..49.5003B. doi:10.1016/S0967-0645(02)00175-3.
  10. ^[full ]
  11. ^ Kraberg, A., Baumann, M. and Durselen, C. D. 2010. Coastal Phytoplankton: Photo Guide for Northern European Seas. Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munchen, Germany. 204.

External links

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