"Diatoms... The most important mediator of carbon dioxide and oxygen... The most important microorganisms that you've never heard of."
Diatoms are one of the largest and ecologically most significant groups of organisms on Earth.
Living diatoms generate about 20 percent of the oxygen produced on the planet each year, take in over 6.7 billion metric tons of silicon each year from the waters in which they live, and contribute nearly half of the organic material found in the oceans.
Diatoms have light-absorbing molecules (chlorophylls a and c) that collect energy from the sun and turn it into chemical energy through photosynthesis. Diatoms remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The CO2 is converted to organic carbon in the form of sugar, and oxygen is released. We breathe the oxygen that diatoms release.
"Diatoms are the secret to the Earth's oxygen supply."
-National Geographic documentary, One Strange Rock