Genomic footprints of a cryptic plastid endosymbiosis in diatoms

Science. 2009 Jun 26;324(5935):1724-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1172983.


Diatoms and other chromalveolates are among the dominant phytoplankters in the world's oceans. Endosymbiosis was essential to the success of chromalveolates, and it appears that the ancestral plastid in this group had a red algal origin via an ancient secondary endosymbiosis. However, recent analyses have turned up a handful of nuclear genes in chromalveolates that are of green algal derivation. Using a genome-wide approach to estimate the "green" contribution to diatoms, we identified >1700 green gene transfers, constituting 16% of the diatom nuclear coding potential. These genes were probably introduced into diatoms and other chromalveolates from a cryptic endosymbiont related to prasinophyte-like green algae. Chromalveolates appear to have recruited genes from the two major existing algal groups to forge a highly successful, species-rich protist lineage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Chlorophyta / classification
  • Chlorophyta / genetics*
  • Chlorophyta / physiology
  • Diatoms / classification
  • Diatoms / genetics*
  • Diatoms / physiology
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Genes
  • Genome*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plastids / genetics*
  • Rhodophyta / classification
  • Rhodophyta / genetics*
  • Rhodophyta / physiology
  • Symbiosis*