Diatom research

Our diatom research covers both extinct and extant taxa. It utilises both fossil and preserved material as well as living material in the form of cultured collections.

The pursuit of comparative biology: systematics, evolution and biogeography of freshwater diatoms

There are some 10-12,000 known species of freshwater diatoms, with a further 200-250,000 suspected species.

A series of projects investigating their morphology, phylogenetic relationships and distribution relative to all organisms surrounding the margins of the Pacific Ocean are being carried out at the Museum.

  • Scanning electron microscope image showing a living species of pennate diatom found in shallow seas
    Species-rich, poorly-understood taxa

    This interdisciplinary project focuses on the non-monophyletic group of ‘araphid’ diatoms.

  • Scanning electron microscope image of the exterior valve of the diatom Actinoptychus
    Significance of historical collections

    The scientific problems requiring study of the Museum’s diatom specimens indicates the contemporary value and relevance of historical collections.

  • Lake Ohrid in Macedonia
    The origin and distribution of biodiversity

    The biogeographic aspect of this floristic and taxon-based research focuses on ancient lakes. It could help us understand the opening of the Pacific and the origins of the Southern hemisphere biota.

  • Scanning electron microscope image of diatoms showing the ornate silica shell
    Geographical diversity

    Building our knowledge of benthic diatoms from ancient lakes could underline their significance within the global biodiversity crisis and climate change.

Diatom researcher

Dr David Williams
Dr David Williams

Researching the phylogenetic relationships, distribution in the Pacific Ocean and systematic theory of diatoms.