Understanding Diatom Responses to Environmental Change by Functional Genomics Approaches (EU Project DIATOMICS)
Diatoms are photosynthetic eukaryotes providing close to one quarter of global fixed carbon and approximately one fifth of the oxygen we breathe. Remarkably, very little is known about their basic biology and how it is affected by environmental change. The Diatomics project will address these issues in marine diatoms using information based on two completed diatom genome sequences. Important topics that will be addressed include carbon sequestration, nutrient acquisition, the rise and fall of blooms, and biofouling. We will study gene expression profiles at the whole genome level in response to ecologically-relevant stimuli, will manipulate expression of candidate key genes by reverse genetics, and will study phylogenetic histories and ecological significance of these genes in a range of diatoms. Ultimately, the project should lead to the development of non-neutral markers that can be used to assess diatom ecophysiology in natural environments in response to changing environmental conditions.
The AWI will sequence EST clones from two marine diatoms which have been exposed to different environmentally relevant conditions, to compare the types of genes expressed from sea-ice diatoms to those normally living in the plankton. They will interact with the partners involved in studying the expression of genes under nutrient stress and probes for these conditions will be developed in WP3 and WP5. Microarrays will be generated for WP5.