Who knew slime was this beautiful?

[Global] Slime isn’t usually thought of as beautiful. But a closer looks show the sticky substance hides an incredible array of patterns. 

These show diatoms – the most common form of algae – which vary hugely in colour, structure and function.

Microalgae vary hugely in their structure.
Microalgae vary hugely in their structure.

The images were captured using an electron microscope with samples from researchers at Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Some of the structures resemble sweets
Some of the structures resemble sweets

While you may just think of algae as slimy pond scum, it is vital to human life.  Diatoms make up 25 per cent of all carbon life on the planet, and produce up to 40 per cent of the oxygen we breathe.

Microalgae are tiny single-celled organisms that often live in communities, such as those you can see when your garden pond turns green
Microalgae are tiny single-celled organisms that often live in communities, such as those you can see when your garden pond turns green

The images were achieved by photographer Steve Gschmeissner using a microscope that uses a beam of accelerated electrons as a source of illumination.

Many of the diatoms have a dotted surface.
Many of the diatoms have a dotted surface.

 

The wavelength of an electron can be up to 100,000 times shorter than visible light particles. 

This diatom almost looks like a crumpet.
This diatom almost looks like a crumpet.

This means that electron microscopes can reveal images in a much higher resolution, showing the intricate structure of tiny objects.

Algae come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the images show the intricate patterns that make up the organism. These can form in the shape of ribbons, fans, zig-zags, or even stars
Algae come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the images show the intricate patterns that make up the organism. These can form in the shape of ribbons, fans, zig-zags, or even stars

Microalgae are tiny single-celled organisms that often live in communities, such as those you can see when your garden pond turns green.

Algae have adapted so they can inhabit almost any aquatic environment, such as oceans, lakes, ponds, streams, soil, rocks and even snow and ice. This diatom almost resembles a Christmas cracker,
Algae have adapted so they can inhabit almost any aquatic environment, such as oceans, lakes, ponds, streams, soil, rocks and even snow and ice. This diatom almost resembles a Christmas cracker,

They are the ancestors to all green land plants, and were the first cells that could harness the sun’s energy and turn it into fuel using photosynthesis.

Diatoms are commonly between 20-200 microns in diameter or length,
Diatoms are commonly between 20-200 microns in diameter or length,

They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the images show the intricate patterns that make up the organism. These can form in the shape of ribbons, fans, zig-zags, or even stars.

The cell may be solitary or colonial.
The cell may be solitary or colonial.

Algae have adapted so they can inhabit almost any aquatic environment, such as oceans, lakes, ponds, streams, soil, rocks and even snow and ice.

When viewed close-up, these diatoms almost look like sweets or tablets, with an oval structure and a surface with a dotted pattern across it.
When viewed close-up, these diatoms almost look like sweets or tablets, with an oval structure and a surface with a dotted pattern across it.

As well as providing vital oxygen, algae could also be used as a fuel one day.

As well as providing vital oxygen, algae could also be used as a fuel one day.
As well as providing vital oxygen, algae could also be used as a fuel one day.

Dr Mark Williamson, innovations director at the Carbon Trust, said: ‘We must find a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to oil for our cars and planes if we are to deliver the deep cuts in carbon emissions necessary to tackle climate change.

Some of the diatoms almost look like sea creatures.
Some of the diatoms almost look like sea creatures.

‘Algae could provide a significant part of the answer and represents a multibillion-pound opportunity.’

 

View original article at: Who knew SLIME was this beautiful? Incredible images reveal pond scum in a stunning new light

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