Chaetoceros sp.

  • Chaetoceros sp. is one of the most abundant and widespread genera of marine planktonic diatoms, with approximately 400 species described (Rines & Theriot, 2003)
  • Chaetoceros sp. has been used as a biological source for bio-fuels due to the high growth rates and high lipid yield (Spaulding and Edlund, 2008).
  • They have widely been used in aquaculture such as for larvae fish feedings due to high content of PUFAs.
  • Currently, SBC’s microalgae library has a total of 7 locally isolated Chaetoceros sp.

Natural Habitat

  • Chaetoceros sp. is found abundantly in marine environment, with only a few in inland waters of North America (Rushforth and Johansen, 1986).
  • SBC’s Chaetoceros strains were isolated from marine environment.
  • Number of strains isolated in Sarawak:
Division  No. of Strains 
Total 7


  • Size
    • Ranged 12 to 30 µm ( Shevchenko et al. 2006).
    • The Chaetoceros strains in the SBC's microalgae library are 5 µm in diameter.
  • Flagella
    • Non flagella
  • Motile
    • Non motile
  • Shape
    • More or less rectangular in girdle view (Carmelo, 1997)
    • Elliptical in valve view (Carmelo, 1997).
    • Form chains and only a few are solitary (Jensen & Moestrup 1998).
  • Any other published scientific info
    • Long setae emerge from corners of the cells (Spaulding & Edlund, 2008). 
    • A centric diatom with very lightly silicified frustules. Each frustule possesses four long, thin spines, or setae. The setae link the frustules together to form colonies of several cells (Ostenfeld 1901, 1912, Paulsen 1905).
    • Under nutrient depleted, Chaetoceros sp. produce heavily silicified resting cells that are often preserved in sediments and wait for favourable condition to reproduce (Itakura, 2000 & Suto, 2006).
    • The identification at the species level for Chaetoceros sp. will be based on the morphology of the colonies, shape and dimension of cells, thickness and direction of setae, number and shape of chloroplasts, and presence of resting spores (Fuad et. al., 2015).

Algae Bioeconomy/industry

  • Pharmaceutical/lipid industry
    • Some of the research indicated that Chaetoceros muelleri (gracilis) that were extracted using supercritical CO2 showed antimicrobial activity against Staphyloccocus aureus, Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. (Mendiola et. al., 2007).
    • It has been proven that other species under the same genus such as Chaetoceros gracilis (Rika Partiwi et. al., 2009) is capable of producing high quality of fatty acids for lipid industry.
  • Aquafeed
  • Biofuel
    • According to Takushima et. al. (2016), this diatom was genetically engineered to produce high yield lipid for biofuel production.
    • In laboratory-scale experiments, nitrogen or silica deprivation is frequently used to induce lipid production and accumulation (Chisti, 2007; Adam et. al., 2014; Hu et. al., 2008; Mortensen et. al., 1988; Msanne et. al., 2012; Tornabene et. al., 1983; Yang et. al., 2014; Yang et. al., 2013).


Adams, C. & Bugbee, B.(2014). Enhancing lipid production of the marine diatom Chaetoceros gracilis: synergistic interactions of sodium chloride and silicon. Journal Applied Phycology, 26,1351–7.

Carmelo, R. T. (1997). Identifying marine phytoplankton. San Diego Academic Press.

Chisti Y. (2007). Biodiesel from microalgae. Biotechnology Advance, 25(3),294–306.

Itakura, S. (2000). Physiological ecology of the resting stage cells of coastal planktonic diatoms. Bulletin of Fisheries and Environment of Inland Sea. 2: 67-130 (in Japanese with English abstract).

Fuad, M.A.M.,Mohammad-Noor, N., Jalal, A. K. C. & Kamaruzzaman, B. Y. (2015). Pure cultivation and morphological studies of four Chaetoceros Taxa from the coastal of Pahang, Malaysia. Sains Malaysiana, 44(7), 947 – 955. 

Hu, Q., Sommerfeld, M., Jarvis, E., Ghirardi, M., Posewitz, M., Seibert, M. & Darzins, A. (2008). Microalgal triacylglycerols as feedstocks for biofuel production: perspectives and advances. The Plant Journal, 54, 621–39.

Jensen, K.G. & Moestrup, Ø. (1998). The genus Chaetoceros (Bacillariophyceae) in inner Danish coastal waters. Opera Botanica, 133: 1-68.

Mendiola, J.A., Torres, C.F., Toré, A., Martin-Álvarez, P.J., Santoyo, S., Arredondo, B.O., Señoráns, F.J., Cifuentes, A. & Ibáñez, E. (2007). Use of supercritical CO2 to obtain extracts with antimicrobial activity from Chaetoceros muelleri microalga. A correlation with their lipidic content. European Food Research Technology, 224, 505-510.

Mortensen, S.H., Børsheim, K.Y., Rainuzzo, J. & Knutsen, G. (1988). Fatty acid and elemental composition of the marine diatom Chaetoceros gracilis Schütt. Effects of silicate deprivation, temperature and light intensity. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 122(2),173–85.

Msanne, J., Xu, D., Konda, A.R., Casas-Mollano, J.A., Awada, T., Cahoon, E.B. & Cerutti, H.(2012).  Metabolic and gene expression changes triggered by nitrogen deprivation in the photoautotrophically grown microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Coccomyxa sp. C-169. Phytochemistry, 75, 50–9.

Ostenfeld, C. H. (1901). Phytoplankton fradet Kaspiske Hav. Videnskabelige Meddelelser fra den naturhistoriske Forening i Kjφbenhavn. 129–139.

Ostenfeld, C. H. (1912). A revision of the marine species of Chaetoceras [sic] Ehbg. Sect. Simplicia Ostf. Meddelelser fra Kommissionen for Havundersφgelser Serie Plankton. 1 (10), 1–11.

Paulsen, O. (1905). On some Peridinea and Plankton-Diatoms. Meddelelser fra Kommissionen for Danmarks Fiskeri-Og Havundersøgelser. Serie: Plankton (København). 1(3), 3-7.

Rika Partiwi, A., Dahrul, S., Linawati, H., Lily Maria, G.P. & Maggy, T.S. (2009). Fatty acid synthesis by Indonesian Marine Diatom, Chaetoceros gracilis. HAYATI Journal of Biosciences. 16(4), 151-156.

Rines, J.E.B. & Theriot, E.C. (2003). Systematics of Chaetocerotaceae (Bacillariophyceae). I. A phylogenetic analysis of the family. Phycological Research, 51, 83-98.

Rushforth, S.R. & Johansen, J.R. (1986). The inland Chaetoceros (Bacillariophyceae) species of North. America Journal of Phycology. 22, 441-448.

Shevchenko, O.G., Orlova, T.Y. & Herna´ndez-Becerril, D.U. (2006). The genus Chaetoceros (Bacillariophyta) from Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan. Botanica Marina. 49: 236-258.

Spaulding, S. & Edlund, M. (2008). Chaetoceros. In Diatoms of the United States. Retrieved October 19, 2017.

Suto, I. (2006). The explosive diversification of the diatom genus Chaetoceros across the Eocene/Oligocene and Oligocene/Miocene boundaries in the Norwegian Sea. Marine Micropaleontology. 58, 259 – 269.

Takushima, H., Inoue-Kashino, N., Nakazato, Y., Masuda, A., Ifuku, K. & Kashino, Y. (2016). Advantageous characteristics of the diatom Chaetoceros gracilis as a sustainable biofuel producer. Biotechnology Biofuels.Vol.9:235.

Tornabene, T.G., Holzer, G., Lien, S. & Burris, N. (1983). Lipid composition of the nitrogen starved green alga Neochloris oleoabundans. Enzyme Microbiology Technology. 5, 435–40.

Yang, Z.K., Niu, Y.F., Ma, Y.H., Xue, J., Zhang, M.H., Yang, W.D., Liu, J.S., Lu, S.H., Guan, Y. & Li, H.Y. (2013). Molecular and cellular mechanisms of neutral lipid accumulation in diatom following nitrogen deprivation. Biotechnology Biofuels. 6(1),67.

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