For the very first time, the genetic make-up of a planktonic marine alga has been sequenced. During this process, a team of international scientists found unexpected metabolic pathways in the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. The results will be published in the scientific journal ‘Science’ this week.
The fact that Thalassiosira pseudonana operates a urea cycle, has been a special discovery. Up to now, this metabolic pathway for ammonia detoxification was known only from the liver cells of animals and humans. It remains unclear how the cycle works in the alga. In addition, the diatom has two separate means for digesting fat, which is also unusual. One digestive mechanism is carried out as in animals, within mitochondria, the cell’s ‘power stations’. In contrast, fatty acids are broken down in regular plant-like fashion inside peroxysomes used for detoxification. Hence, the boundary between animals and plants appears blurred in this species of diatom.
The genome sequencing of Thalassiosira pseudonana is also of great interest for evolutionary biologists. Scientists came across genes which originate from the nucleus of a red alga. Gene transfer of this kind supports the theory of secondary endosymbiosis. Eukaryotes, such as diatoms, are complex cells with membrane bound nucleus and cell organelles. All living organisms other than bacteria are comprised of eukaryotic cells. Almost all eukaryotic cells, including human ones, have mitochondria. Plant and algal cells also contain plastids for photosynthesis. Originally, both types of organelles were bacteria that were incorporated by eukaryotic cells. For this reason, they are often termed ‘primary endosymbionts’. In several cases, secondary endosymbiosis took place in that one eukaryotic cell was incorporated by another and subsequently reduced to a – now secondary – organelle. Diatoms appear to have engulfed a unicellular species of red alga and transformed it into a secondary plastid. “The diatom is some kind of a chimera of several organisms”, says Dr Klaus Valentin of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. This explains the presence of red algal genes in T. pseudonana according to Klaus Valentin, who participated in this project, among other ways, through identification of genes.
Ingrid Zondervan | alfa
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy