Chaetoceros decipiens

Chaetoceros decipiens

Chaetoceros decipiens (40 cm.)

Supervison of Thomas Schaarschmidt and Øjvind Moestrup (KU). 

A marine microalgae, distributed worldwide. The genus Chaetoceros where it belong is probably the largest genus of marine planktonic diatoms with approximately 400 species described.

Chaetoceros decipiens is a type of centric diatom that contains a cell wall composed of silica that contain long, thin spines, called setae. The spines connect the frustules together creating a colony of cells. Cells colonies can form chains that are coiled, straight, or curved. Cell size can range from <10 um to 50 um.
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, 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. Overall, phytoplankton contributes to over half of Earth's oxygen production.

Chaetoceros blooms have been reported to reach concentrations of 30,100 cells/ml and can persist for multiple months. 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 the gills of the predators who swallow them. This clever defensive trait can help the species avoid predation and further promote bloom success.

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