A role for the cell-wall protein silacidin in cell size of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana

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  • Amy Kirkham
  • Patrick Richthammer
  • Katrin Schmidt
  • Martin Wustman
  • Yoshiaki Maeda
  • Rene Hedrich
  • Eike Brunner
  • Tsuyoshi Tanaka
  • Karl-Heinz van Pee
  • Angela Falciatore
  • Thomas Mock

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Diatoms contribute 20% of global primary production and form the basis of many marine food webs. Although their species diversity correlates with broad diversity in cell size, there is also an intraspecific cell-size plasticity due to sexual reproduction and varying environmental conditions. However, despite the ecological significance of the diatom cell size for food-web structure and global biogeochemical cycles, our knowledge about genes underpinning the size of diatom cells remains elusive. Here, a combination of reverse genetics, experimental evolution and comparative RNA8 sequencing analyses enabled us to identify a previously unknown genetic control of cell size in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. In particular, the targeted deregulation of the expression of the cell-wall protein silacidin caused a significant increase in valve diameter. Remarkably, the natural downregulation of the silacidin gene transcript due to experimental evolution under low temperature also correlated with cell-size increase. Our data give first evidence for a genetically controlled regulation of cell size in Thalassiosira pseudonana and possibly other centric diatoms as they also encode the silacidin gene in their genomes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2452-2464
Number of pages13
JournalThe ISME Journal
Issue number11
Early online date21 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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