A little diatom story- Quest for a family - 3rd prize of the Speedtalks at the IDS Berlin - Lina Ahn Van

There was once a happy Encyonema that lived in the clearest of river waters. It was a happy diatom, who spent its days swimming in the shade….

but it couldn’t help but think about its place in the universe.
It decided to set off on a quest to search for more of its own kind.  After letting the river meander along for a bit, it eventually found a few friendly-looking fellows.
“Hello there! Are you my family?”  asked the little Encyonema.
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t even have a raphe! What do you think, Nitzschia?” – said Tabellaria.
“Definitely not. We’re not even in the same order”, said Nitschia.
Disheartened, it went looking for others and soon found someone.
 “Hey! You’re raphid! Are you my family?” it asked.

“Hm, that’s true, but you’ve only seen one of my faces….


I don’t think we are similar at all. Look!” Rhoicosphenia twirled around and indeed, there was little to be seen resemblance after all.

Disappointed again, the little Encyonema went on a bit further and saw some strange-looking fellows.

“I’m sorry, I am looking for my family. Have you seen anyone that’s biraphid recently?” it asked, feeling very discouraged.

“You’re looking at us! Call us Didymosphenia, Didymo for short.” they chorused.

The little Encyonema perked up. Would you help me look for others like me?” it said to one of the friendly Didymosphenia.

“Well…. A close relative’s family reunion is coming up and there will be plenty of biraphids there. I don’t get along with them too well because they make fun of me for being big and curvy. And we are trying to take over this rock right now. But if you want, I can take you to them!” She detached herself from the colony…

and swam with the little Encyonema to a cool, shady area, where there was a large gathering of diatoms.
“Hello everyone! I know, it’s me again, but I’d like to introduce you to Encyonema here. It’s trying to find its family – I think it belongs to you all!”

The others clustered to the Encyonema and discussed among themselves a bit if the Encyonema belonged to them and it got a bit rowdy.

“What is all this?” interrupted a voice that belonged to a very beautiful diatom. The other diatoms made space for the queenly one.

She examined the little Encyonema closely and said– “I, matriarch of the Family Cymbellaceae, Cymbella cymbiformis, know who you are, and exactly where you belong - ”

“…with us, your family!”

The little Encyonema was happy to have found its family at last. They photosynthesized together happily ever after.
This short story was concepted, illustrated and presented by Lina Ahn Van in the International Diatom Symposium 2018 in Berlin and won the 3rd prize.


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