Diatom of the month - December 2015: Tursiocola ziemanii
by Luca Marazzi*
Tursiocola ziemanii is one of three new species described by FIU’s Dr. Thomas Frankovich and colleagues in a recent paper in Phytotaxa, a journal dedicated to the publication of discoveries on the taxonomy of plants, algae, mosses, lichens and fungi. The name was chosen to honor Dr. Joseph C. Zieman (1943–), in recognition of his generous support of diatom research in, and contributions to our understanding of, Florida Bay.
in a somewhat strange place: on the skin of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), a familiar ‘face’ in Florida waters! And in very high numbers: in Frankovitch’s study, 90% of all diatoms on the manatee skin were of Tursiocola ziemanii. This diatom probably tolerates large changes in salinity as manatees are migratory mammals who move from freshwater to marine environments1. There are many other epizoic diatoms - that is to say they live on animals like whales, porpoises and even on other small plankton!
20,000 to 2 million species (!) of diatoms on Earth with many new discoveries under way.About two years ago, Frankovich and colleagues took samples of dried skin from the belly area of a deceased adult female manatee and, after these were treated chemically at the Florida Bay Interagency Science Center (Key Largo), Tursiocola ziemanii, and her diatom ‘sisters’ T. varicopulifera and T. costata were ready to be brought to light under the microscope. Will they become famous as the ‘manatee diatoms’?
What can you do?
“Diatoms-Silica” (2015) by Xavier Cortada, FIU Artist In Residence in the College of Architecture & the Arts. Pieces are made of glazed porcelain and rest on glass mosaic tiles.
Video on Klaus Kemp’s stunning arrangement
art. Source: https://vimeo.com/90160649
* Postdoctoral Associate in Dr. Evelyn Gaiser's lab at Florida International University.
1. Frankovich T.A., Sullivan M.J. & Stacy N.I. (2015) “Three new species of Tursiocola (Bacillariophyta) from the skin of the West Indian manatee”. Phytotaxa 204: 33–48.