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Diagnostic features

Unbranched filaments with cells much shorter than wide (cf. Phormidium). Recently divided cells can often be seen undergoing a further division, with partially completed cross-walls. No obvious sheath. End cells may be rounded or slightly pointed, with a thickened wall, but the terminal region of the filament is not tapered (cf. Phormidium). Usually blue-green in colour. Organelles are absent from the cells, but vesicles/granules are commonly present.

Typical habitats

Riverbed or open water habitats. Planktonic species can be abundant in sewage ponds in winter or summer.


Kingdom Bacteria
Phylum Cyanobacteria
Class Cyanophyceae
Order Oscillatoriales
Family Oscillatoriaceae
Common name Cyanobacteria