Phaeodarians are unicellular marine protists characterized by the "central capsule" containing the nucleus, the "phaeodium", or mass of brown particles, and a siliceous skeleton called the "scleracoma". Phaeodaria have long been classified as a member of the Radiolaria; however, this protist group now belongs to the phylum Cercozoa. The ancestor of phaeodarians is thought to have appeared in the upper Triassic Epoch according to the fossil record. They reproduce by cell division and swarmer production. These plankton are heterotrophic, and they presumably feed on organic materials suspended in the water column or capture other plankton. Although this group is widely distributed in the world ocean from the surface to deep waters, they have attracted little attention from marine researchers partly because their abundance has long been underestimated. Recent study, however, revealed that phaeodarians are more numerous than expected, and their high abundance is sometimes reported. Considering their occasional high biomass and the fact that their scleracoma is made chiefly from silica, this plankton group plays an important role in local ecosystems and has a large impact in the silica cycle of the ocean. Knowledge of phaeodarian is indispensable for future oceanography; therefore the Hitherto-Known information on this marine protist is comprehensively reviewed in this chapter.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Environmental Science(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)