The essential element iron has a low biological availability in the surface ocean where photosynthetic organisms live. Recent advances in our understanding of iron acquisition mechanisms in brown algae and diatoms (stramenopile algae) show the importance of the reduction of ferric to ferrous iron prior to, or during, transport in the uptake process. The uses of iron in photosynthetic stramenopiles resembles that in other oxygenic organisms, although (with the exception of the diatom Thalassiosira oceanica from an iron-deficient part of the ocean) they lack plastocyanin, instead using cytochrome c 6, This same diatom further economizes genotypically on the use of iron in photosynthesis by decreasing the expression of photosystem I, cytochrome c 6, and the cytochrome b 6 f complex per cell and per photosystem II relative to the coastal Thalassiosira pseudonana; similar changes occur phenotypically in response to iron deficiency in other diatoms such as Phaeodactylum tricornutum. In some diatoms grown under iron-limiting conditions, essentially all of the iron in the cells can be accounted for by the iron occurring in catalytic proteins. However, stramenopiles can store iron. Genomic studies show that pennate, but not centric, diatoms have the iron storage protein ferritin. While Mössbauer and X-ray analysis of (57)Fe-labelled Ectocarpus siliculosus shows iron in an amorphous mineral phase resembling the core of ferritin, the genome shows no protein with significant sequence similarity to ferritin.