Diatoms in biotechnology: modern tools and applications
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Diatoms have played a decisive role in the ecosystem for millions of years as one of the foremost set of oxygen synthesizers on earth and as one of the most important sources of biomass in oceans. Previously, diatoms have been almost exclusively limited to academic research with little consideration of their practical uses beyond the most rudimentary of applications. Efforts have been made to establish them as decisively useful in such commercial and industrial applications as the carbon neutral synthesis of fuels, pharmaceuticals, health foods, biomolecules, materials relevant to nanotechnology, and bioremediators of contaminated water. Progress in the technologies of diatom molecular biology such as genome projects from model organisms, as well as culturing conditions and photobioreactor efficiency, may be able to be combined in the near future to make diatoms a lucrative source of novel substances with widespread relevance.