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Museum Discovers 5 New Diatom Species – Canadian Museum of Nature Weblog


To paraphrase Forrest Gump: “Diatom samples are like a field of goodies. You by no means know what you’re gonna get.”

An image arranged to look like a box of chocolates, with brown diatom shapes against a purple background.
Think about a pattern field of diatom-shaped “goodies.” Picture: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Researchers within the Botany part on the Canadian Museum of Nature lately found 5 new Canadian diatom species. 4 had been from a stream within the VanDusen Botanical Backyard (VDBG), an attractive inexperienced house positioned in central Vancouver, British Columbia. The fifth was from Gibson Lake in Renfrew County, Ontario, simply north of Algonquin Provincial Park.

Diatoms are microscopic, photosynthetic algae with particular shells product of silica, often known as frustules. Present in freshwater and marine environments, in addition to soil, they’re utilized by biologists to check water high quality and local weather change.

Senior Analysis Assistant Paul Hamilton runs a diatom analysis program on the Museum. He assists college students and scientists by sharing his experience and offering entry to tools and collections.I work with Paul as a volunteer and so-called citizen scientist, serving to him with fieldwork, processing, microscope images and evaluation.

Four images. The top left shows the author sitting at a microscope with computer screens and diatom books open on a desk. The top right image shows a scanning electron microscope and several large computer screens. The bottom right shows a molecular biology laboratory with different types of equipment and supplies on the counters and shelves. The bottom left image shows a library shelf filled with diatom-related books.
Clockwise from the highest left: Joe Holmes with a Leica gentle microscope (LM) (1,600x magnification); FEI Apreo Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) (350,000x magnification); lab for DNA sequencing; algae lab library. Picture: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

In December 2016, I visited my daughter in Vancouver, accumulating 17 samples from close by rivers and lakes. Again within the lab, and after “trying inside” the samples, we noticed 4 doubtlessly new species from the VanDusen Botanical Backyard. Paul took extra gentle microscopy pictures and scanning electron microscopy pictures. A number of months later, the botanical backyard despatched a reside pattern for DNA extraction. After additional analyses, Paul co-authored a paper describing the brand new species, which you’ll be able to learn right here.

The brand new species all belonged to the genus Neidium and had been named: 1) N. vandusenense, for the VanDusen Botanical Backyard; 2) N. collare, from the Latin for “neck band”; 3) N. lavoieanum, honouring scientist Dr. Isabelle Lavoie; and 4) N. beatyi, honouring the Beaty Basis, beneficiant supporters of the Museum.

Three images arranged in a grid. The top left shows a wintery scene with trees and a frozen stream. A red arrow indicates where the sample was taken. The top right image shows three black and white electron micrographs of diatoms; they are oval-shaped with pointy ends and are oriented with the longer axis running vertically. The bottom image shows two black and white electron micrographs of diatoms; they resemble long surfboards, with the longer axis running horizontally.
VanDusen Botanical Backyard, December 28, 2016. Pattern from a frozen stream between Victoria Pond and Livingstone Lake (background): 1) N. vandusenense (97 µm x 20 µm); 2) N. collare (98 µm x 20 µm); 3) N. lavoienum (70 µm x 19 µm); 4) N. beatyi (180 µm x 25 µm); and huge recognized species, 5) N. iridis (205 µm x 30 µm). Picture: Joe Holmes & Paul Hamilton © Canadian Museum of Nature.

Lastly, a fifth species was lately found from Gibson Lake in northwestern Renfrew County, Ontario by Andréanne Bouchard, a graduate pupil on the College of Ottawa. After intensive verification, she co-authored a paper with Paul, describing the brand new species as Frustulia gibsonea.

Two images side-by-side. The left image is of a lake in summer, with blue water and green grass. A red arrow indicates where a sample was taken. The right image shows three electron micrographs of diatoms; they are an angular oval shape, with the longer axis arranged vertically.
Frustulia gibsonea, discovered at Gibson Lake, Renfrew County. Examples: 1) (112 µm x 22 µm); 2) (95 µm x 19 µm); 3) (92 µm x 18 µm). Picture: Joe Holmes & Andréanne Bouchard © Canadian Museum of Nature.
This image is a black and white electron micrograph of a single diatom. It is oval-shaped, with the longer axis arranged diagonally. There is a dark groove in the centre of the diatom.
Detailed SEM picture of Frustulia gibsonea (66 µm x 16 µm), magnified 3,500x. Picture: Andréanne Bouchard © Canadian Museum of Nature

Discovering a number of new species in a single pattern is thrilling and uncommon. As diatom researchers proceed to gather recent and marine water samples from throughout Canada and all over the world, new diatom species will little doubt be found.

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