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Wonderful Desmids

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Image of the Week #94, June 4th, 2013:

From: Wonderful Things: Desmids, Microscopic Plants of Unusual Beauty and Oddball Behavior and Desmids at High Res, and a Slight Technical Glitch by Jennifer Frazer at The Artful Amoeba.

Sources: clockwise from top left:
Micrasterias radiata (credit)
Closterium sp. (courtesy of Psi Wavefunction at The Ocelloid)
Staurastrum (credit)
Euastrum bidentatum (credit)

Desmids are a microscopic single-celled green algae that look more like an intricate snowflake than anything we immediately think of when we conjure an image of a plant. Sharing the presence of chlorophyll, chloroplasts, and cell walls made of cellulose, desmids are considered to be some of the earliest-evolved plants. But as Jennifer Frazer at The Artful Amoeba points out, they have some other weird and wonderful traits. Watch the surprising ways in which they reproduce asexually, watch them move without the use of flagella (the mechanics of which have yet to be understood), or get a sense of how tiny they actually are in a photograph of an amoeba engulfing a desmid destined to become lunch. These photographs are the first in a series of “Wonderful Things” to be highlighted at Frazer’s The Artful Amoeba.

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