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Bacillaria paxillifer - a diatom with a spectacular gliding movement

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Published on Mar 9, 2012

This pennate diatom displays a spectacular method of motility as the cells line up and then slide apart, going back and forth, again and again. The motility is generated by a mucus material being produced through an area called the raphe. Only diatoms that have a raphe system glide along the substrate or in this case, between adjacent cells. It is thought that each cell produces siliceous ridges that aid in interlocking and guiding the neighboring cell. The colony only behaves in this manner while in the light. This collection was made on a spillway at the north end of East Reservoir in the Portage Lakes of Akron.

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