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|Dense kelp forest with understory at Partridge Point near Dave's Caves, Cape Peninsula|
The classification of the group is still being worked out. Originally, the ochrophytes were regarded as a phylum denominated Ochrophyta. Some authors (e.g., Cavalier-Smith) divided it into two subphyla, Phaeista Cavalier-Smith 1995 (comprising Hypogyristea and Chrysista in some classifications, or Limnista and Marista in others) and Khakista Cavalier-Smith, 2000 (comprising Bolidophyceae and diatoms). Others prefer not to use the subphyla, listing only lower taxa (e.g., Reviers, 2002, Guiry & Guiry, 2014).
However, it is currently regarded as a subphylum inside of the phylum Gyrista, along with Pseudofungi and Bigyromonada. It contains two infraphyla: Diatomista (containing diatoms and related groups) and Chrysista (containing brown and golden algae and related groups).