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Clade-specific diversification dynamics of marine diatoms since the Jurassic

Nature Ecology & Evolutionvolume 2pages17151723 (2018) | Download Citation


Diatoms are one of the most abundant and diverse groups of phytoplankton and play a major role in marine ecosystems and the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. Here we combine DNA metabarcoding data from the Tara Oceans expedition with palaeoenvironmental data and phylogenetic models of diversification to analyse the diversity dynamics of marine diatoms. We reveal a primary effect of variation in carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) on early diatom diversification, followed by a major burst of diversification in the late Eocene epoch, after which diversification is chiefly affected by sea level, an influx of silica availability and competition with other planktonic groups. Our results demonstrate a remarkable heterogeneity of diversification dynamics across diatoms and suggest that a changing climate will favour some clades at the expense of others.

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  • 13 November 2018

    In the version of this Article originally published, the authors did not give credit to David G. Mann for the four microscopic images used in Fig. 1a. This has now been amended in all versions of the Article.


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We thank J. Clavel, G. Sommeria-Klein, O. Maliet, M. Manceau and O. Missa for comments on the manuscript. E.L. thanks E. Charles for discussion. Funding was provided through a European Research Council Consolidator grant (ERC-CoG-PANDA) attributed to H.M. C.B. acknowledges funding from the ERC Advanced Award Diatomite (294823), the LouisD Foundation and the French Government ‘Investissements d’Avenir’ programmes MEMO LIFE (ANR-10-LABX-54), PSL* Research University (ANR-1253 11-IDEX-0001-02) and OCEANOMICS (ANR-11-BTBR-0008). This Article is contribution no. 80 of the Tara Oceans project.

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Author notes

    • Eric Lewitus

    Present address: The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc., Bethesda, MD, USA


  1. Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (IBENS), CNRS, INSERM, Université PSL, Paris, France

    • Eric Lewitus
    • , Shruti Malviya
    • , Chris Bowler
    •  & Hélène Morlon
  2. Sorbonne Université, Université des Antilles, CNRS, Evolution Paris Seine–Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (EPS–IBPS), Paris, France

    • Lucie Bittner
  3. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, India

    • Shruti Malviya
  4. US Military HIV Research Program, WRAIR, Silver Spring, MD, USA

    • Eric Lewitus


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E.L., H.M. and C.B. conceived the study. E.L. analysed the data. L.B., S.M. and C.B. contributed data. E.L. and H.M. wrote the manuscript. C.B. contributed substantially to revisions. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent the positions of the US Army or the Department of Defense.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eric Lewitus.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary tables and figures

  2. Reporting Summary

  3. Supplementary Data 1

    V9-18S ribosomal DNA sequences for 22,0018 global samples

  4. Supplementary Data 2

    Backbone phylogenies constructed using the Protist Ribosomal Database using two multiple alignment methods (MAFFT, CLUSTALW) and two tree reconstruction methods (FastTree, RaXML)

  5. Supplementary Data 3

    Consensus phylogenies for 19,197 diatom OTUs constructed from four backbone phylogenies

  6. Supplementary Data 4

    Uclust output of V9-18S ribosomal DNA sequences for 22,0018 global samples defining diatom OTUs

  7. Supplementary Data 5

    Taxonomic assignment of V9-18S ribosomal DNA sequences from global samples

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