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

Ocean Acidification (OA) is known to affect various aspects of physiological performances of diatoms, but little is known about the underlining molecular mechanisms involved. Here, we show that in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, the expression of key genes associated with photosynthetic light harvesting as well as those encoding Rubisco, carbonic anhydrase, NADH dehydrogenase and nitrite reductase, are modulated by OA (1000 μatm, pHnbs 7.83). Growth and photosynthetic carbon fixation were enhanced by elevated CO2. OA treatment decreased the expression of β-carbonic anhydrase (β-ca), which functions in balancing intracellular carbonate chemistry and the CO2 concentrating mechanism (CCM). The expression of the genes encoding fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c protein (lhcf type (fcp)), mitochondrial ATP synthase (mtATP), ribulose-1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase large subunit gene (rbcl) and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 (ndh2), were down-regulated during the first four days (< 8 generations) after the cells were transferred from LC (cells grown under ambient air condition; 390 μatm; pHnbs 8.19) to OA conditions, with no significant difference between LC and HC treatments with the time elapsed. The expression of nitrite reductase (nir) was up-regulated by the OA treatment. Additionally, the genes for these proteins (NiR, FCP, mtATP synthase, β-CA) showed diel expression patterns. It appeared that the enhanced photosynthetic and growth rates under OA could be attributed to stimulated nitrogen assimilation, increased CO2 availability or saved energy from down-regulation of the CCM and consequently lowered cost of protein synthesis versus that of non-nitrogenous cell components.

Li Y., Zhuang S., Wu Y., Ren H., Chen F., Lin X., Wang K., Beardall J. & Gao K., 2017. Ocean acidification modulates expression of genes and physiological performance of a marine diatom. PLoS ONE 12(2):e0170970. Article.

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