Chaetoceros Iconic
  1. Frustules with long, thin spines
  2. Spines overlap to join cells in colonies

Chaetoceros is 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. Frustules are usually seen in girdle view.

Chaetoceros is primarily a marine genus, with only a few representatives in inland waters of the United States. Inland waters contain cells that reach their greatest abundances in saline or brine contaminated rivers and lakes. Chaetoceros produces heavily silicified resting cells that are often preserved in sediments. Chaetoceros is capable of high growth rates and the cells contain high concentrations of lipids. As a result, Chaetoceros is a potential source for the harvesting of lipids for biofuels.