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PLoS One


Iron (Fe) is an important growth factor for diatoms and its availability is further restricted by changes in the carbonate chemistry of seawater. We investigated the physiological attributes and transcriptional profiles of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana grown on a day: night cycle under different CO2/pH and iron concentrations, that in combination generated available iron (Fe') concentrations of 1160, 233, 58 and 12 pM. We found the light-dark conditions to be the main driver of transcriptional patterns, followed by Fe' concentration and CO2 availability, respectively. At the highest Fe' (1160 pM), 55% of the transcribed genes were differentially expressed between day and night, whereas at the lowest Fe' (12 pM), only 28% of the transcribed genes displayed comparable patterns. While Fe limitation disrupts the diel expression patterns for genes in most central metabolism pathways, the diel expression of light- signaling molecules and glycolytic genes was relatively robust in response to reduced Fe'. Moreover, we identified a non-canonical splicing of transcripts encoding triose-phosphate isomerase, a key-enzyme of glycolysis, generating transcript isoforms that would encode proteins with and without an active site. Transcripts that encoded an active enzyme maintained a diel expression at low Fe', while transcripts that encoded the non-active enzyme lost the diel expression. This work illustrates the interplay between nutrient limitation and transcriptional regulation over the diel cycle. Considering that future ocean conditions will reduce the availability of Fe in many parts of the oceans, our work identifies some of the regulatory mechanisms that may shape future ecological communities.


Institute for Systems Biology