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Taxonomy in silica-scaled chrysophytes has gone through three morphological phases. From primary studies of the cell morphology in the 18th century, the focus was in the 20th century replaced by studies of the silica structures of the cell envelope. Now, in the latest decades the importance of DNA sequencing has been recognized, not only to support the taxonomic framework but also to obtain new understanding of taxonomic relations among particular taxa. In the first part of this review, we provide a historical overview of the developments in the taxonomy of scale-bearing chrysophytes. In the second part, we present a phylogenetic reconstruction of chrysophyte algae, updated by newly obtained SSU rDNA and rbcL sequences of several isolated Synura, Mallomonas and Chrysosphaerella species. We detected significant incongruence between the phylogenies obtained from the different datasets, with the SSU rDNA phylogram being the most congruent with the morphological data. Significant saturation of the first rbcL codon position could indicate the presence of positive selection in the rbcL dataset. Within the Synurales, the relationships revealed by the phylogenetic analyses highlight the artificial infragenetic classification of Mallomonas and Synura, and the occurrence of cryptic diversity within a number of traditionally defined species. Finally, three new combinations are proposed based on the phylogenetic analyses: Tessellaria lapponica, Synura asmundiae and S. bjoerkii.