Molecular mechanisms of temperature acclimation and adaptation in marine diatoms



Diatoms are important contributors to marine primary production and the ocean carbon cycle, yet the molecular mechanisms that regulate their acclimation and adaptation to temperature are poorly understood. Here we use a transcriptomic approach to investigate the molecular mechanisms associated with temperature acclimation and adaptation in closely related colder- and warmer-adapted diatom species. We find evidence that evolutionary changes in baseline gene expression, which we termed transcriptional investment or divestment, is a key mechanism used by diatoms to adapt to different growth temperatures. Invested and divested pathways indicate that the maintenance of protein processing machinery and membrane structure, important short-term physiological mechanisms used to respond to temperature changes, are key elements associated with adaptation to different growth temperatures. Our results also indicate that evolutionary changes in the transcriptional regulation of acetyl-CoA associated pathways, including lipid and branched chain amino acid metabolism, are used by diatoms to balance photosynthetic light capture and metabolism with changes in growth temperature. Transcriptional investment and divestment can provide a framework to identify mechanisms of acclimation and adaption to temperature.

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This work was supported by the NSERC Discovery (ZVF, AJI) and Canada Research Chairs (ZVF) programs. The authors acknowledge the contribution of scientists and staff of the McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre, Montréal, Canada, for RNA library preparation and sequencing.

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JAK, YL, AJI, and ZVF designed research, JAK, YL, and JDL performed research and analyses, and JAK, YL, AJI, ZVF, and JDL wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Yue Liang.

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Liang, Y., Koester, J.A., Liefer, J.D. et al. Molecular mechanisms of temperature acclimation and adaptation in marine diatoms. ISME J 13, 2415–2425 (2019).

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