Decide whether your cyanobacterial specimen is solitary or colonial. Scroll down for explanations of both of these terms, as well as photographic examples of each, and then choose either Colonial or Solitary below to proceed to the next step.
Colonial coccoid cyanobacteria form colonies of cells held together by mucilage (slimy, viscous material produced by the cells). Colony shapes include spherical, sheet-like, and irregular, among other forms. Some colonies contain only a few cells, while others contains hundreds.
Solitary coccoid cyanobacteria may occur as single cells, as pairs of cells (following cell division), or in irregular groups or agglomerations of cells. Though these cells may aggregate into groups, they do not form distinct colonies of cells.