Lindavia comensis

(Grunow) Nakov, Guillory, M.L.Julius, E.C.Ther. & A.J.Alverson 2015      Category: Centric
BASIONYM: Cyclotella comensis Grunow in Van Heurck 1882

REPORTED AS: Cyclotella indistincta (Kociolek et al. 2014, p. 14, Pl. 10, Figs 9-16, Pl. 13, Figs 1-5) 

Lindavia bodanica


Lindavia delicatula

LM scalebar = 10 µm = 80 pixels.


Contributor: David R.L. Burge | Mark Edlund | Kalina Manoylov | Nadja Ognjanova-Rumenova - December 2016
Diameter: 5-12 µm
Mantle Height: 1.5-3.0 µm
Rows of areolae in 10 µm: 9-12 based on circumferential density


Valves are disc-shaped with a tangentially undulate valve face, although the undulation is difficult to discern under LM in smaller specimens. A colliculate valve face covers 1/2 to 3/4 of the valve face and creates either an irregular or star-like shape. The striae, occurring 18-21 in 10 µm based on chord count, are composed of two rows of areolae with a row of small pores present between the larger areolae. The striae vary in length and terminate on the valve face to create an irregular circular central area. A single central fultoportula is present on the depressed half of the valve face. The rimoportula is located on the raised half of the valve face, at the end of a shortened stria. Marginal fultoportulae occur on the mantle between every 3rd to 4th striae. No spines are present.

Here we present specimens of Lindavia comensis that conform to the type (Scheffler et al. 2005). Lindavia comensis, however, shows high morphological variability within frustules (heterovalvy), within populations and among populations. This variability has been the subject of many studies and several species complexes have been identified that encapsulate the variation: the “Cyclotella comensis-pseudocomensis-costei group” (Kistenich et al. 2014), the “Cyclotella rossii-comensis-tripartita-complex” (Cremer et al. 2001), the “Cyclotella ocellata/C. comensis complex” (Duleba et al. 2015), “C. comensis morphs” (Hausmann and Lotter 2001, Werner and Smol 2006), “Cyclotella comensis and related morphotypes” (Wunsam et al. 1995), the Cyclotella comensis/var. 1/var. 2/michiganiana-comensis group (Reavie and Kireta 2015), and the dimorphic Cyclotella comensis-minima forms (Scheffler et al. 2005). Attempts to discern the indicator value of L. comensis morphological variation have included several attempts to classify morphogroups, determine the environmental variables linked to morphological variation, and molecular approaches that compare phylogeny to morphological variation.

Attempts to differentiate morphological groups within the L. comensis-complex have included simple morphometric/morphologic separation based on size, striae/alveolae pattern, central area shape, central area ornamentation, and central area topography. Werner and Smol (2006) identified four common morphotypes in Ontario lakes including “comensis”, “comensis rossii”, “comensis socialis”, and “comensis fine”. Reavie and Kireta (2015) recognized four morphotypes from the Laurentian Great Lakes including Cyclotella comensis, C. comensis var. 1, C. comensis var. 2, and C. comensis michiganiana-comensis. Cremer et al. (2001) saw variability in small Greenland “Cyclotella sp. A” that encompassed variation typical of C. rossii, C.comensis, and C.tripartita. Wunsam et al. (1995) recognized Cyclotella comensis of the type and four additional morphotypes in European Alpine lakes. Still others have treated closely related members of these groups as synonymous, e.g. Cyclotella pseudocomensis as a latter synonym of C. comensis (Scheffler et al. 2005) or as separate and recognizable taxa (Houk et al. 2010). Multivariate and multi-character approaches for differentiating groups in this complex have also been used to identified up to six morphs (Hausmann and Lotter 2001, Kistenich et al. 2014, Duleba et al. 2015).

The significance of these morphotypes and morphological variability has been more difficult to resolve. Cremer et al. (2001) noted that the “C. rossii” morphotype was most common among their forms but could not determine any historical patterns among morphotypes in paleolimnological records from Greenland. Rühland et al. (2008) presented grouped data of small planktonic “Cyclotella s.l.” (sensu lato) suggesting that the unresolved group of taxa showed high responsiveness to climatic drivers. Saros et al. (2012) and Saros and Anderson (2014) showed that Cyclotella comensis, without any resolution of morphological variants, had strong indicator value for nitrogen levels and lake mixing depth. Werner and Smol (2006) noted no significant patterns in ecological distribution among their four morphotypes. Reavie and Kireta (2015) showed that, in the Great Lakes, there was little difference in TP or chloride optima between C. comensis and C. comensis var. 2, but did note that the former was a strong indicator of low anthropogenic stress in coastal environments. Hausmann and Lotter (2001) noted that alkalinity and total phosphorus were not correlated with their morphological groups, but did identify significant relationships between summer lake temperature (altitude) and some morphotypes. Molecular studies on the C. comensis group have used morphological characteristics to classify terminal taxa and molecular analysis to test those morphological groups. Kistenich et al. (2014) could not separate C. comensis, C. pseudocomensis, and C. costei based on morphology because of high morphological variability, and were similarly not able to distinguish them based on molecular analysis, thus concluding they were one taxon. Duleba et al. (2015) similarly used morphology to identify C. comensis, C. pseudocomensis, and C. costei forms in their cultures, but concluded based on molecular analyses that these taxa were conspecific and closely related to C. ocellata by a possible recent divergence.

Original Description

Basionym: Cyclotella comensis
Author: Grunow in Van Heurck 1882
Diameter: µm
Rows of areolae in 10 µm:

Original Description

Original Images

Cite This Page:
Burge, D., Edlund, M., Manoylov, K., and Ognjanova-Rumenova, N. (2016). Lindavia comensis. In Diatoms of the United States. Retrieved April 19, 2018, from

Species: Lindavia comensis

Contributor: David R.L. Burge | Mark Edlund | Kalina Manoylov | Nadja Ognjanova-Rumenova

Reviewer: Euan Reavie


Bramburger, A.J. and Reavie, E.D. (2016). A comparison of phytoplankton communities of the deep chlorophyll layers and epilimnia of the Laurentian Great Lakes… Journal of Great Lakes Research 42: 1016-1025.

Bramburger, A.J., Reavie, E.D., Sgro, G.V., Estepp, L.R., Chraïbi, V.L. and Pillsbury, R.W. (2017). Decreases in diatom cell size during the 20th century in the Laurentian Great Lakes: a response to warming waters?. Journal of Plankton Research 39: 199-210.

Chraïbi, V. L. S., Kireta, A. R., Reavie, E. D., Cai, M. and Brown, T. N. (2014). A paleolimnological assessment of human impacts on Lake Superior. Journal of Great Lakes Research 40: 886-897.

Cremer, H., Wagner, B., Melles, M. and Hubberten, H. (2001). The postglacial environmental development of Raffles Sø, East Greenland: inferences from a 10,000 year diatom record. Journal of Paleolimnology 26: 67-87. 10.1023/A:1011179321529

Duleba, M., Kiss, K. T., Földi, A., Kovács, J., Borojević, K. K., Molnár, L. F., Plenkovic-Moraj, A., Pohner, Z., Solak, C.N., and Ács, É. (2015). Morphological and genetic variability of assemblages of Cyclotella ocellata Pantocsek/C. comensis Grunow complex (Bacillariophyta, Thalassiosirales). Diatom Research, 30(4), 283-306. 10.1080/0269249X.2015.1101402

Hausmann, S. and Lotter, A.F. (2001). Morphological variation within the diatom taxon Cyclotella comensis and its importance for quantitative temperature reconstructions. Freshwater Biology 46: 1323-1333.

Houk, V., Klee, R. and Tanaka, H. (2010). Atlas of freshwater centric diatoms with a brief key and descriptions, Part III. Stephanodiscaceae A. Cyclotella, Tertiarius, Discostella. Fottea 10 (Supplement): 1-498.

Kistenich, S., Dreßler, M., Zimmermann, J., Hübener, T., Bastrop, R. and Jahn, R. (2014). An investigation into the morphology and genetics of Cyclotella comensis and closely related taxa. Diatom Research 29: 423-440. 10.1080/0269249X.2014.922125

Kociolek, J.P., Laslandes, B., Bennett, D., Thomas, E., Brady, M. and Graeff, C. (2014). Diatoms of the United States 1: Taxonomy, Ultrastructure and Descriptions of New Species and Other Rarely Reported Taxa from Lake Sediments in the Western U.S.A. Bibliotheca Diatomologica 61, J. Cramer, Stuttgart.

Nakov, T., Guillory, W.X., Julius, M.L., Theriot, E.C. and Alverson, A.J. (2015). Towards a phylogenetic classification of species belonging to the diatom genus Cyclotella (Bacillariophyceae): Transfer of species formerly placed in Puncticulata, Handmannia, Pliocaenicus and Cyclotella to the genus Lindavia. Phytotaxa 217 (3): 249–264. 10.11646/phytotaxa.217.3.2

Reavie, E.D. and Kireta, A.R. (2015). Centric, Araphid and Eunotioid Diatoms of the Coastal Laurentian Great Lakes. Bibliotheca Diatomologica 62:1-184.

Reavie, E.D., Sgro, G.V., Estepp, L.R., Bramburger, A.J., Shaw Chraïbi, V.L., Pillsbury, R.W., Cai, M., Stow, C.A. and Dove, A. (2017). Climate warming and changes in Cyclotella sensu lato in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 62: 768-783.

Scheffler, W., Nicklisch, A. and Schonfelder, I. (2005). Beiträge zur Morphologie, Ökologie und Ontogenie der planktischen Diatomee Cyclotella comensis Grunow. Untersuchungen an historischem und rezentem Material. (Articles on the morphology, ecology and ontogenesis of the planktonic diatom Cyclotella comensis Grunow. Studies on the historic and recently sampled material). Diatom Research 20: 171-200.

Van Heurck, H. (1882). Synopsis des Diatomées de Belgique, Atlas. Anvers: Ducaju et Cie. Plates LXXVIII-CIII.

Werner, P. and Smol, J.P. (2006). The distribution of the diatom Cyclotella comensis in Ontario (Canada) lakes. Nova Hedwigia Beiheft 130 373-392.

Wunsam, S., Schmidt, R. and Klee, R. (1995). Cyclotella-taxa (Bacillariophyceae) in lakes of the Alpine region and their relationship to environmental variables. Aquatic Sciences 57: 360-386.

Links & ID's

Index Nominum Algarum (INA)

Original INA
Transfer INA

California Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Lindavia comensis CAS

North American Diatom Ecological Database (NADED)

NADED ID: 20023

Autecology Discussion

Lindavia comensis was most abundant in coastal wetlands of Lake Superior and has low TP and Cl optima (Reavie and Kireta 2015). Cells live in the plankton as unicells or as short colonies (Houk et al. 2010). Werner and Smol (2006) reported L. comensis as common in many Ontario (Canada) lakes and had highest abundance in circumneutral-alkaline (pH > 8.2, Alk >80 mg/l) and oligo-mesotrophic lakes (TP < 20 µg/l). Saros and Anderson (2014) showed that L. comensis was found at TP < 10 µg/l. Bramburger and Reavie (2016) showed that L. comensis is a predominant member of the deep chlorophyll layer in the Upper Great Lakes and that this species has been increasing in abundance in relation to climate drivers (Bramburger et al. 2017, Reavie et al. 2017, Chraïbi et al. 2014).


The distribution of Lindavia comensis in rivers of the lower 48 United States. Accessed on 10 July, 2017.

Credit/Source: USGS/Biodata