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      Putting the N in dinoflagellates

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          The cosmopolitan presence of dinoflagellates in aquatic habitats is now believed to be a direct consequence of the different trophic modes they have developed through evolution. While heterotrophs ingest food and photoautotrophs photosynthesize, mixotrophic species are able to use both strategies to harvest energy and nutrients. These different trophic modes are of particular importance when nitrogen nutrition is considered. Nitrogen is required for the synthesis of amino acids, nucleic acids, chlorophylls, and toxins, and thus changes in the concentrations of various nitrogenous compounds can strongly affect both primary and secondary metabolism. For example, high nitrogen concentration is correlated with rampant cell division resulting in the formation of the algal blooms commonly called red tides. Conversely, nitrogen starvation results in cell cycle arrest and induces a series of physiological, behavioral and transcriptomic modifications to ensure survival. This review will combine physiological, biochemical, and transcriptomic data to assess the mechanism and impact of nitrogen metabolism in dinoflagellates and to compare the dinoflagellate responses with those of diatoms.

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          Nitrogen Cycles: Past, Present, and Future

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            The genome of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana: ecology, evolution, and metabolism.

            Diatoms are unicellular algae with plastids acquired by secondary endosymbiosis. They are responsible for approximately 20% of global carbon fixation. We report the 34 million-base pair draft nuclear genome of the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and its 129 thousand-base pair plastid and 44 thousand-base pair mitochondrial genomes. Sequence and optical restriction mapping revealed 24 diploid nuclear chromosomes. We identified novel genes for silicic acid transport and formation of silica-based cell walls, high-affinity iron uptake, biosynthetic enzymes for several types of polyunsaturated fatty acids, use of a range of nitrogenous compounds, and a complete urea cycle, all attributes that allow diatoms to prosper in aquatic environments.
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              The Phaeodactylum genome reveals the evolutionary history of diatom genomes.

              Diatoms are photosynthetic secondary endosymbionts found throughout marine and freshwater environments, and are believed to be responsible for around one-fifth of the primary productivity on Earth. The genome sequence of the marine centric diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana was recently reported, revealing a wealth of information about diatom biology. Here we report the complete genome sequence of the pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum and compare it with that of T. pseudonana to clarify evolutionary origins, functional significance and ubiquity of these features throughout diatoms. In spite of the fact that the pennate and centric lineages have only been diverging for 90 million years, their genome structures are dramatically different and a substantial fraction of genes ( approximately 40%) are not shared by these representatives of the two lineages. Analysis of molecular divergence compared with yeasts and metazoans reveals rapid rates of gene diversification in diatoms. Contributing factors include selective gene family expansions, differential losses and gains of genes and introns, and differential mobilization of transposable elements. Most significantly, we document the presence of hundreds of genes from bacteria. More than 300 of these gene transfers are found in both diatoms, attesting to their ancient origins, and many are likely to provide novel possibilities for metabolite management and for perception of environmental signals. These findings go a long way towards explaining the incredible diversity and success of the diatoms in contemporary oceans.

                Author and article information

                Front Microbiol
                Front Microbiol
                Front. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                04 December 2013
                : 4
                Département de Sciences Biologiques, Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale, Université de Montréal Montréal QC, Canada
                Author notes

                Edited by: Senjie Lin, University of Connecticut, USA

                Reviewed by: Kathleen Scott, University of South Florida, USA; Bethany Jenkins, University of Rhode Island, USA; Senjie Lin, University of Connecticut, USA

                *Correspondence: David Morse, Département de Sciences Biologiques, Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale, Université de Montréal, 4101 Sherbrooke est, Montréal, QC H1X 2B2, Canada e-mail: david.morse@

                This article was submitted to Aquatic Microbiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

                Copyright © 2013 Dagenais-Bellefeuille and Morse.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, Equations: 4, References: 175, Pages: 14, Words: 0
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