Navicula tripunctata, copyright I. Jüttner.

Belongs within: Bacillariophycidae.

Naviculi, Navicula
Published 22 December 2020

Diatoms are one of the most prominent groups of micro-algae in aquatic environments, perhaps more abundant than any other major group of aquatic organisms except bacteria. As such, they are a key component in many of the environmental processes that we ultimately depend on: food for aquatic animals, producers of oxygen, et cetera et cetera. To those who study them, they are also known for the intricate architecture of their silica walls. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, this architecture forms a key component of diatom classification. One of the most diverse groups of diatoms recognised has been the mega-genus Navicula.

Light microscope view of Navicula tripunctata, copyright Kristian Peters.

Historically, over one thousand species have been assigned to Navicula. Though more recent authors have restricted the name to a smaller, more tightly defined concept than before, it still contains some 200 or so species (Bruder & Medlin 2008). Species assigned to this genus are an elongate diamond or pill shape. Though the term ‘navicula’ can be translated from Latin as a small boat, and this is often assumed to be the name’s origin, this is incorrect. Its original author, the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Geneviève Marcellin Bory de Saint-Vincent, derived the name from the French term for a weaver’s spindle (navette de tisserand; Cox 1999). A long fissure, the raphe, runs down the midline of each valve of the diatom wall; the diatom moves by extruding secretions through the raphe. In Navicula, the raphe is largely straight though it may be hooked at the ends of the valve. Perpendicular to or radiating from the raphe are striae formed of rows of openings (areolae); in Navicula, these areolae are more or less elongate with their long axes perpendicular to the line of the stria. In some species historically included in Navicula, the striae may be biseriate with two rows of areolae. Some authors have proposed recognising species with biseriate striae as a distinct genus Hippodonta. Cox (1999) disputed whether this distinction was enough to warrant a separate genus but Bruder & Medlin (2008) conducted a molecular phylogenetic analysis of naviculoid diatoms in which the one Hippodonta species included was placed as the sister taxon to Navicula sensu stricto. In distinguishing the genus Sellaphora from Navicula, Mann (1989) also identified a number of cytoplasmic features characteristic of Navicula sensu stricto, such as the possession of two distinct plastids per cell with rod-like pyrenoids.

SEM view of Navicula dobrinatemniskovae, from Van de Vijver et al. (2011). Scale bar = 1 µm.

Ecologically, the majority of species of Navicula sensu stricto (about 150 species) are found in freshwater environments (Bruder & Medlin 2008). In temperate and tropical regions, they are a diverse element of benthic diatom communities, but they are less predominant in coldwater habitats (Van de Vijver et al. 2011). They are most characteristic of meso- to eutrophic lakes and permanent waterways and Van de Vijver et al. (2011) therefore suggested that they might be less suited for the damp soils and temporary pools that dominate freshwater habitats in the frozen South. Nevertheless, these authors still managed to identify five previously unknown species from just this inhospitable region, giving some indication of what still remains to be discovered of this already diverse genus.

Systematics of Navicula
Navicula Bory de St. Vincent 1822VVZ11
|--N. disertaBM08
`--+--+--N. gregariaBM08
| `--N. veneta [=N. cryptocephala var. veneta]BM08
| `--+--N. duerrenbergianaBM08
`--+--+--+--N. capitatoradiataBM08 [incl. N. cryptocephala var. intermediaSV03]
| | `--N. radiosa Kützing 1844BM08, CFW59
| `--+--N. cariBM08 [=N. cincta var. cariCFW59]
| `--+--*N. tripunctataM89, BM08 [=Vibrio tripunctatusC99]
| `--+--N. lanceolata (Agh.) Kützing 1844BM08, CFW59
| `--N. ramosissimaBM08
`--+--N. phyllepta Kützing 1844BM08, SV03 [incl. N. phylleptosomaSV03]
`--+--+--N. cryptocephalaBM08
| | |--N. c. var. cryptocephalaC99
| | `--N. c. var. exilisC99
| `--N. cryptotenellaBM08
`--N. reinhardtiiBM08

Navicula incertae sedis:
N. aberrans Cl.-Eul. 1953W61a
N. abruptaG75
N. abunda Hustedt 1955G75
N. aequalisG64
N. aequoreaG75
N. agnita Hustedt 1955G75
N. agulhasica Cholnoky 1959G63
N. alienaSV03
N. ammophilaC99
N. amphibola Cleve 1895W61a
N. amphicerosC99
N. amphioxysG64
N. amphipleuroides Hustedt 1955G75
N. ampliata [incl. N. affinis]G64
N. angustataG64
N. approximataM01
N. arctotenelloidesVVZ11
N. arenariaC99
N. atomas (Naegeli) Grun. 1860 [=Synedra atomas Naegeli in Kützing 1849]CFW59
N. aucklandica Grun. 1863W61a
N. auriculataTJ06
N. australica (A.S.) Cleve 1895 [=N. lyra var. australica A.S. 1875]W61a
N. australoshetlandica Van de Vijver in Van de Vijver, Zidarova et al. 2011VVZ11
N. avenacea [=Schyzonema avenacea]M01
N. bacilliformis Grun. in Cleve & Grun. 1880CFW59
N. baileyiG75
N. bicephalaVVZ11
N. bicephaloides Van de Vijver & Zidarova in Van de Vijver, Zidarova et al. 2011VVZ11
N. biformis (Grun.) Mann 1939W61a [=Stauroneis biformis Grun. 1860W61a; incl. N. australisCFW59, S. australisCFW59]
N. binodisG64
N. birostrataG64
N. bombusG64
N. brasiliensis Grün. 1863CFW59
|--N. b. var. brasiliensisW61a
`--N. b. var. bicuneata Cleve 1895W61a
N. bremensisSV03
N. brevisG64
N. bryophilaM89
N. bullataH04
N. cancellata Donkin 1871CFW59
N. cardinalisCFW59
N. carminataG75
|--N. c. var. carminataG75
`--N. c. var. africana Cholnoky 1959G75
N. cincta (Ehrenberg) vH. 1885 [=Pinnularia cincta Ehrenberg 1854; incl. N. kuetzingiana H. L. Sm. 1878]CFW59
N. cinctaeformisG63
N. cingulatoides Cholnoky 1963G75
N. circumsecta (Grun.) Cleve 1895W61b [=N. hennedyi var. circumsectaM01, N. polysticta ssp. circumsectaW61b]
N. clamansG75
|--N. c. var. clamansG75
`--N. c. var. africanaG75
N. clavataG75
|--N. c. var. clavataM01
`--N. c. var. caribaeaM01
N. claviculusG64
N. clementis Grun. 1882CFW59
|--N. c. var. clementisCFW59
`--N. c. var. rhombicaCFW59
N. clipeiformisG75
N. cluthensisG64
N. cocconeiformisM89
N. comoidesG75 [=Schizonema comoidesG63, N. grevillei var. comoides (Ag.) Perag. 1908G63]
N. conveyi Van de Vijver in Van de Vijver, Zidarova et al. 2011VVZ11
N. costulataC99
N. crassaG64
N. crassinerviaG64
N. cremeri Van de Vijver & Zidarova in Van de Vijver, Zidarova et al. 2011VVZ11
N. cruciculoidesG75
N. crucigera (Smith) Cleve 1894 [=Schizonema cruciger Smith 1856]W61b
N. cryptocephaloidesG63
N. cryptolyraG75
N. cuspidata Kützing 1844 [incl. Surirella craticula]CFW59
N. cyprinus (W. Sm.) Boyer 1916 [=Pinnularia cyprinus]CFW59
N. decora Gr. & St. 1887CFW59
N. decussataCFW59
N. dehissa Giffen 1973G75
N. dicephalaG64
N. didymaH04
N. digitoradiata (Greg.) Ralfs 1861 [=Pinnularia digitoradiata Greg. 1859]W61a
N. dilucida Hustedt 1939G63
N. directaG75
|--N. d. var. directaM01
`--N. d. var. heterostriataM01
N. dispersaCFW59
N. disphenia (Ehrenberg) Kützing 1844 [=Pinnularia disphenia Ehrenberg 1843]CFW59
N. distans W. Sm. 1853CFW59
N. diversistriata Hustedt 1955G75
N. dobrinatemniskovae Zidarova & Van de Vijver in Van de Vijver, Zidarova et al. 2011VVZ11
N. doehleriVVZ11
N. donkinii [incl. N. truncata]G64
N. ectorisVVZ11
N. elegans Smith 1853W61b
N. evanidaSV03
N. excavataH04
N. febigeriiM01
N. forcipata Grev. 1859CFW59 [incl. N. forcipata var. densistriataG75]
|--N. f. var. forcipataM01
`--N. f. var. nummulariaM01
N. fortis (Greg.) Donkin 1871CFW59
N. frigidaB26
N. fritschii Lund 1946G63
N. fromenterae Cleve 1895 [=N. formenterae (l. c.)]G75
N. gammaG63
N. garkeana [=Rhoiconeis garkeana]M01
N. gastrumexigua (Greg.) Grun. 1880CFW59
N. gelidaB26
N. genuflexa [=Rhoiconeis genuflexa]M01
N. gibberulaG64
N. gotlandica Grun. 1880CFW59
N. gracilis Ehrenberg 1838CFW59
N. graciloides [incl. N. mayeri]G63
N. (sect. Punctatae) granulata Bail. 1853G63, CFW59 [incl. N. baileyanaM01, N. polystictaG63]
N. gregorii [=N. cancellata var. gregorii Grunow in Cleve & Grunow 1880]G75
N. grevilleana Hendey 1964G75
N. grevillei (Agardh) Cleve 1894G63
N. guluensis Giffen 1963G63
N. hambergiiBM08
N. hamulifera [=Libellus hamulifera]M01
N. hanseni Møller 1950 [incl. N. pseudoincerta Giffen 1970]G75
N. hastaeformis Cholnoky 1960G63
N. hebesG64
N. hebetataG64
N. hennedyi Smith 1856W61a
|--N. h. var. hennedyiW61b
|--N. h. var. californicaM01
`--N. h. var. manca A.S. 1874W61b
N. hochstetteri Grun. in A.S. 1875CFW59
|--N. h. var. hochstetteriCFW59
`--N. h. var. placitaCFW59
N. humerosa Brebisson ex W. Sm. 1856W61b
|--N. h. var. humerosaG63
`--N. h. var. constricta Cleve 1895 non N. constricta Grun. 1860G63
N. hungaricaC99
N. hyalinulaG75
N. hyalosirella Hustedt 1927-1964G75
N. incertata Lange-Bertalot 1985SV03
N. inconspicuaG64
N. incurvaG64
N. inelegansCFW59
N. infirmitata Giffen 1975G75
N. inflexa (Greg.) Donkin 1871CFW59
N. inhalata A.S. 1875CFW59
N. inserataG63
|--N. i. var. inserataG63
`--N. i. var. elliptica Cholnoky 1960 non N. lyra var. elliptica A. S. 1874G63
N. irrorataM01
N. lacusbaikaliC99
N. lacustris Greg. 1856W61a
N. lataB26
N. latissima Greg. 1856W61b
N. latiuscula [incl. N. patula]G64
N. laucaVVZ11
N. lepidaG64
N. leptostriataVVZ11
N. levensis [incl. N. trochus]G64
N. libellus Greg. 1857W61a
N. libonensisVVZ11
N. lineataG64
N. lineolaVVZ11
|--N. l. var. lineolaVVZ11
`--N. l. var. perlepida [incl. N. adminii Roberts & McMinn 1999]VVZ11
N. litoricola Hustedt 1955G75
N. longa (Greg.) Ralfs 1861CFW59
N. longicephalaVVZ11
N. longicepsG64
N. lucensG75
N. lusoria Giffen 1975G75
N. luxuriosa Greville 1863W61a
N. maculaG64
N. marina Ralfs in Pritch. 1961W61a [incl. N. punctulata Smith 1853 (preoc.)G75]
N. mediopartitaCFW59
N. melanocephala Giffen 1975G75
N. meniscoides Hustedt 1955G75
N. meniscula Schumann 1864-1869CFW59
N. microsoma Kützing 1844CFW59
N. minutulaG64
N. mollis (Smith) Cleve 1895G63 [=Schizonema molle Smith 1856G75]
N. moniliferaC96
N. muscaG64
N. muticaCFW59
| i. s.: N. m. f. cohniiM01
|--N. m. var. muticaCFW59
`--N. m. var. nivalisCFW59
N. nasuta Giffen 1973G75
N. nautica Cholnoky 1963G75
N. nebulosaG64
N. nobilis (Ehrenberg) Kützing 1844CFW59
N. nolensG75
N. normalis Hustedt 1955G75
N. notabilis A.S. 1875CFW59
N. nothaVVZ11
N. oblonga [=Pinnularia oblonga]M89
N. occasa Giffen 1975G75
N. opimaC99
N. ovalisG64
N. oxyptera Kützing 1844CFW59
N. palpebralis Brébisson ex Smith 1853G75
|--N. p. var. palpebralisG75
`--N. p. var. angulosaG75
N. pargeminaUPS98
N. pectinalisG64
N. pelliculoides Hustedt 1927-1964G75
N. pelliculosaG75
N. pennataM01
N. peregrina (Ehrenberg) Kützing 1844 [=Pinnularia peregrina Ehrenberg 1844]CFW59
N. perminutaC99
N. permitisG75
N. pinnata Pantocsek 1889W61b
N. placentula Ehrenberg 1843CFW59
N. ponticola Giffen 1970G75
N. poretzkajaeG75
N. praetexta Ehrenberg 1840CFW59
N. productaG64
N. protractaG75
|--N. p. var. protractaG75
`--N. p. var. ellipticaG75 [=N. lyra var. elliptica A. S. 1874CFW59]
N. pseudoforcipata Hustedt 1955G75
N. pseudohalophila Cholnoky 1960G63
N. pseudoinflata Giffen 1975G75
N. pseudony Hustedt 1955G75
N. pseudosalinarum Giffen 1975G75
N. pseudotenelloidesVVZ11
N. pulchraG64
N. pullusG75
N. pusillaSG05
|--N. p. var. pusillaW61b
`--N. p. var. subcapitata Boyer 1916W61b
N. pygmaeaG63
N. quarnerensis Grun. 1860CFW59
N. raphoneis Cleve 1895G75
N. rectangulataG64
N. regularisG75
N. reticulata [=Libellus reticulata]M01
N. retrocurvataC99
N. rhynchocephalaG63
N. rhynchotellaVVZ11
N. rogersii Giffen 1963G63
N. rostellum [incl. N. apiculata]G64
N. roteana (Rab.) vH. 1880CFW59
N. salandrianaCFW59
N. saliculaCFW59
N. salinarumG75
N. salinicola Hustedt 1939G63
N. salvaC99
N. schroeteriG63
N. sclesviscensisBM08
N. scopulorumW61b
N. scutelloidesM89
N. scutiformisW61a
N. seibigianaVVZ11
N. semen (Ehrenberg) Donkin 1871 [=Pinnularia semen Ehrenberg 1843]W61a
N. shackletonii West & West 1911 [incl. N. skuae Alfinito & Cavacini 2000]VVZ11
N. sparsipunctataCFW59
N. spectabilis Greg. 1857CFW59
|--N. s. var. spectabilisW61a
`--N. s. var. minuta Cleve in Cl.-Eul. 1953W61a
‘Pinnularia’ sphaerophora Cleve 1900 non Navicula sphaerophora Kützing 1844VVZ11
N. spuria Cleve 1895G63
N. streckeraeVVZ11
N. stylusG64
N. subcarinata Hendey 1951 [=N. lyra var. subcarinata Grun. in A.S. 1875]CFW59
N. subcostulataG63
|--N. s. var. subcostulataG63
`--N. s. var. avittata Cholnoky 1959G63
N. subforcipataG75
N. subinflataG75
N. subinflatoidesG75
N. suborbicularisG64
N. subrhynchocephalaTJ06
N. subvalida Cholnoky 1960G63
N. suecorumG63
N. sulcifera Hust. 1955W61a
N. supergregariaVVZ11
N. tenelloidesVVZ11
N. torneensis Cleve 1891W61a
N. trilineataCFW59
N. tumensG64
N. tumida Brebisson ex Kützing 1849W61b
N. tuscula (Ehrenberg) van H. 1885 (see below for synonymy)CFW59
N. ulvaceaG75
N. umbilicatissimaC99
N. umpatica Cholnoky 1968G75
N. vandamiiVVZ11
|--N. v. var. vandamiiVVZ11
`--N. v. var. mertensiaeVVZ11
N. vaneeiVVZ11
N. vanhoeffeniB26
N. variolataCFW59
N. vekhoviiVVZ11
N. venetiformisVVZ11
N. vilaplaniiVVZ11
N. vimineaG75
N. viminoides Giffen 1975G75
N. viridula Kützing 1844 [incl. Schizonema thwaitesi Grun. in van H. 1880-1885]CFW59
|--N. v. var. viridulaSG05
`--N. v. var. rostellataSG05
N. virihensis Cl.-Eul. 1953W61a
N. vitraea Cleve 1894 [=Pleurosigma vitraeum Cleve in Cleve & Grun. 1880]CFW59
N. vittataG75
N. vulpina Kützing 1844W61a
N. weissflogii (Grun.) Cleve 1894 (see below for synonymy)W61a
N. wiesneriVVZ11
N. woltereckiiG63
|--N. w. var. woltereckiiG63
`--N. w. var. rostrata Cholnoky 1960G63
N. wrightiiH04
N. wunsamiae [incl. N. heidenii var. pulchella]SV03
N. (sect. Laevistriatae) yarrensis Grun. in A.S. 1876G63, CFW59
N. zanonii Hustedt 1949G63
N. zosteretiG63

Nomen nudum: Navicula cassa Smith in Carruthers 1864G64

Navicula tuscula (Ehrenberg) van H. 1885 [=Pinnularia tuscula Ehrenberg 1840, Stauroptera tuscula Ehrenberg 1854; incl. Stauroneis punctata Kützing 1844, Navicula punctata (Kützing) Donkin 1871]CFW59

Navicula weissflogii (Grun.) Cleve 1894 non A.S. 1875 (not preoc. if in dif. gen.?) [=Brebissonia weissflogii Grun. in Cleve 1878]W61a

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B26] Bigelow, H. B. 1926. Plankton of the offshore waters of the Gulf of Maine. Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries 40 (2): 1–509.

[BM08] Bruder, K., & L. K. Medlin. 2008. Morphological and molecular investigations of naviculoid diatoms. III. Hippodonta and Navicula s. s. Diatom Research 23 (2): 331–347.

[C96] Campbell, N. A. 1996. Biology 4th ed. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc.: Menlo Park (California).

[C99] Cox, E. J. 1999. Studies on the diatom genus Navicula Bory. VIII. Variation in valve morphology in relation to the generic diagnosis based on Navicula tripunctata (O. F. Müller) Bory. Diatom Research 14 (2): 207–237.

[CFW59] Crosby, L. H., & E. J. Ferguson Wood. 1959. Studies on Australian and New Zealand diatoms. II.—Normally epontic and benthic genera. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 86 (1): 1–58, pls 1–9.

[G63] Giffen, M. H. 1963. Contributions to the diatom flora of South Africa. I. Diatoms of the estuaries of the eastern Cape Province. Hydrobiologia 21: 201–265.

[G75] Giffen, M. H. 1975. An account of the littoral diatoms from Langebaan, Saldanha Bay, Cape Province, South Africa. Botanica Marina 18: 71–95.

[G64] Gray, J. E. 1864. Handbook of British Water-weeds or Algae. R. Hardwicke: London.

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[M89] Mann, D. G. 1989. The diatom genus Sellaphora: separation from Navicula. British Phycological Journal 24 (1): 1–20.

[M01] Mereschkowsky, C. 1901. A list of Californian diatoms. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, series 7, 7: 292–300.

[SV03] Sabbe, K., E. Verleyen, D. A. Hodgson, K. Vanhoutte & W. Vyverman. 2003. Benthic diatom flora of freshwater and saline lakes in the Larsemann Hills and Rauer Islands, East Antarctica. Antarctic Science 15 (2): 227–248.

[SG05] Sau, A., & R. K. Gupta. 2005. Algal flora of Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah, West Bengal. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 47: 63–86.

[TJ06] Taukulis, F. E., & J. John. 2006. Diatoms as ecological indicators in lakes and streams of varying salinity from the wheatbelt region of Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 89 (1): 17–25.

[UPS98] Underwood, G. J. C., J. Phillips & K. Saunders. 1998. Distribution of estuarine benthic diatom species along salinity and nutrient gradients. European Journal of Phycology 33: 173–183.

[VVZ11] Van de Vijver, B., R. Zidarova, M. Sterken, E. Verleyen, M. de Haan, W. Vyverman, F. Hinz & K. Sabbe. 2011. Revision of the genus Navicula s.s. (Bacillariophyceae) in inland waters of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic with the description of five new species. Phycologia 50 (3): 281–297.

[W61a] Wood, E. J. F. 1961a. Studies on Australian and New Zealand diatoms. IV.—Descriptions of further sedentary species. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 88 (4): 669–698.

[W61b] Wood, E. J. F. 1961b. Studies on Australian and New Zealand diatoms. V.—The Rawson Collection of recent diatoms. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 88 (4): 699–712.

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