A new diatom (Bacillariophyceae) genus and two new species are described from the arid region of the North American southwest. The new genus, Playaensis, and new species, P. circumfimbria and P. furtiva, are distinguished by frustule morphology and autecology. Playaensis possesses unique, narrowly lunate longitudinal ribs bordering the raphe and spathulate spines, but their evolutionary relationship to known genera is unclear. In Payton Lake, New Mexico, P. circumfimbria and P. furtiva are rare in the diatom community, and their geographic and geological extent are not known, but they may be restricted to alkaline, slightly saline lakes of the region.
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