Nitzschia is found mostly in colder waters, and is associated with both Arctic and Antarctic polar sea ice where it is often found to be the dominant diatom. Nitzschia includes several species of diatoms known to produce the neurotoxin known as domoic acid, a toxin which is responsible for the human illness called amnesic shellfish poisoning. The species N. frigida is found to grow exponentially even at temperatures between −4 and −6 degrees Celsius. Some Nitzchia species are also extremophiles by dent of tolerance to high salinity; for example, some halophile species of Nitzchia are found in the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana.
- L. Aletsee and J.Jahnke, 'Growth and productivity of the psychrophilic marine diatoms Thalassiosira antarctica Comber and Nitzschia frigida Grunow in batch cultures at temperatures below the freezing point of sea water. Polar biol(1992) 11:643-647>
- C. Michael Hogan (2008) Makgadikgadi, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham