Description: Nearly one third of the Earth’s land surface is covered by deserts. The Lut Desert in central Iran is an extreme desert. It has regularly recorded temperatures with the most extreme surface temperatures on Earth (68-80 degrees C). Yet, the Lut Desert also has rivers, evaporite ponds, and groundwater where diatoms are present. In this talk, I will discuss that deserts are characterized by a) aridity or persistent drought throughout most the year, b) absence of water vapor in air, leading to high potential evaporation, c) extremes in temperature, d) scarcity of liquid water, e) solar radiation very intense and sunshine hours are very large, f) precipitation deficiency - desert rainfall tends to be seasonal, erratic, unreliable, and localized, g) high wind velocity, h) soils are loose, sandy, devoid of organic carbon, nitrogen, and moisture. Comperé (1981) reported on diatoms of the Lut Desert. Our recent work has shown species that have not previously been described, including the new genus Lutiphila.

Target audience: The webinar is directed at people interested in learning about diatoms in extreme environments and issue of desertification.