Ocean acidification modulates expression of genes and physiological performance of a marine diatom

Ocean Acidification (OA) is known to affect various aspects of the physiological performance of diatoms, but there is little information on the underlining molecular mechanisms involved. Here, we show that in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum expression of the genes related to light harvesting, carbon acquisition and carboxylation, nitrite assimilation and ATP synthesis are modulated by OA. Growth and photosynthetic carbon fixation were enhanced by elevated CO2 (1000 μatm) under both constant indoor and fluctuating outdoor light regimes. The genetic expression of nitrite reductase (NiR) was up-regulated by OA regardless of light levels and/or regimes. The transcriptional expression of fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c protein (lhcf type (FCP)) and mitochondrial ATP synthase (mtATP synthase) genes were also enhanced by OA, but only under high light intensity. OA treatment decreased the expression of β-carbonic anhydrase (β-CA) along with down-regulation of CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs). Additionally, the genes for these proteins (NiR, FCP, mtATP synthase, β-CA) showed diel expressions either under constant indoor light or fluctuating sunlight. Thus, OA enhanced photosynthetic and growth rates by stimulating nitrogen assimilation and indirectly by down-regulating the energy-costly inorganic carbon acquisition process.

Li Y., Zhuang S., Wu Y., Ren H., Cheng F., Lin X., Wang K., Beardall J. & Gao K., 2015. Ocean acidification modulates expression of genes and physiological performance of a marine diatom. Biogeosciences Discussions 12:15809-15833. Article.

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