Phylogeny has not yet been fully accepted in the field of ecotoxicology, despite studies demonstrating its potential for developing environmental biomonitoring tools, as it can provide an a priori assessment of the sensitivity of several indicator organisms. We therefore investigated the relationship between phylogeny and sensitivity to herbicides in freshwater diatom species. This study was performed on four photosystem II inhibitor herbicides (atrazine, terbutryn, diuron, and isoproturon) and 14 diatom species representative of Lake Geneva biofilm diversity. Using recent statistical tools provided by phylogenetics, we observed a strong phylogenetic signal for diatom sensitivity to herbicides. There was a major division in sensitivity to herbicides within the phylogenetic tree. The most sensitive species were mainly centrics and araphid diatoms (in this study, Thalassiosirales and Fragilariales), whereas the most resistant species were mainly pennates (in this study, Cymbellales, Naviculales, and Bacillariales). However, there was considerable variability in diatom sensitivity within the raphid clade, which could be explained by differences in trophic preferences (autotrophy or heterotrophy). These traits appeared to be complementary in explaining the differences in sensitivity observed at a refined phylogenetic level. Using phylogeny together with complementary traits, as trophic preferences, may help to predict the sensitivity of communities with a view to protecting their ecosystem.