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Water SA

On-line version ISSN 0378-4738


FALASCO, Elisa et al. Morphological abnormalities of diatom silica walls in relation to heavy metal contamination and artificial growth conditions. Water SA [online]. 2009, vol.35, n.5, pp. 595-606. ISSN 0378-4738.

Teratological forms of diatoms are non-adaptive phenotypic abnormalities caused by various environmental stresses. Heavy metal contamination and artificial growth conditions are the best known causes. In fact, the recording of abnormal cells in a diatom population or community can give both a temporal and quantitative indication of heavy metal contamination of water bodies. Moreover, long-term cultures generally present a high percentage of abnormal cells due to the scarcity of nutrients, presence of waste products and osmotic pressure. The aim of this paper is to classify and provide photographic documentation and descriptions of all known teratologies occurring in the most widespread freshwater diatom genera.

Keywords : aquatic ecosystem health; diatoms; teratological forms.

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