• silica;
  • microtubules;
  • silicalemma;
  • morphogenesis;
  • valve;
  • plasmolysis


Valve morphogenesis in two Surirellae (S. ovalis Brebisson and S. robusta Ehrenberg) is described. Mitosis takes place at the broad end of the cell. After cleavage, a new Microtubule Center (MC) arises near each spindle pole and moves to the adjacent plasmalemma. Soon, a specific group of microtubules (MTs) extends from very near the MC around the periphery of the cell. Concurrently, the new tubular Silica Deposition Vesicle (SDV) grows around the periphery of the cell close to these MTs. A double rib of silica is rapidly formed inside the SDV; the space between the ribs becomes the raphe. Mitochondria line up along the MTs, and the SDV may be molded around these to create the canal raphe. Soon, the SDV expands in two directions to create the face and the mantle of the new valve. Meanwhile, each daughter nucleus, accompanied by the MC, moves to its interphase position at the center of the cell; this movement is colchicine-sensitive. As in several other pennate diatoms, an interruption in the raphe of the mature valve coincides with the initial position of the MC. The canal raphe thickens rapidly around the mitochondria; a rudimentary raphe fiber may be associated with the creation of a tiny curvature at the inner raphe fissure. As the SDV expands in the large S. robusta, the daughter cell protoplasts slowly shrink by plasmolysis, thereby creating the complex curved surface of the new valve surmounted by the arching canal raphes which are now quite rigid. In S. ovalis, the daughter cell protoplasts remain appressed and therefore the new valve surface is basically flat.

The symmetry of Surirella is quite different from that of other pennate diatoms. However, the cytoplasmic events accompanying valve morphogenesis are similar in all important respects to those described in other raphid pennate diatoms, and clearly supports a naviculoid origin for this genus.