Gruber, Ansgar

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The intracellular distribution of inorganic carbon fixing enzymes does not support the presence of a C4 pathway in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

2018-08, Ewe, Daniela, Tachibana, Masaaki, Kikutani, Sae, Gruber, Ansgar, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Konert, Grzegorz, Kaplan, Aaron, Matsuda, Yusuke, Kroth, Peter G.

Diatoms are unicellular algae and important primary producers. The process of carbon fixation in diatoms is very efficient even though the availability of dissolved CO2 in sea water is very low. The operation of a carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM) also makes the more abundant bicarbonate accessible for photosynthetic carbon fixation. Diatoms possess carbonic anhydrases as well as metabolic enzymes potentially involved in C4 pathways; however, the question as to whether a C4 pathway plays a general role in diatoms is not yet solved. While genome analyses indicate that the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum possesses all the enzymes required to operate a C4 pathway, silencing of the pyruvate orthophosphate dikinase (PPDK) in a genetically transformed cell line does not lead to reduced photosynthetic carbon fixation. In this study, we have determined the intracellular location of all enzymes potentially involved in C4-like carbon fixing pathways in P. tricornutum by expression of the respective proteins fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP), followed by fluorescence microscopy. Furthermore, we compared the results to known pathways and locations of enzymes in higher plants performing C3 or C4 photosynthesis. This approach revealed that the intracellular distribution of the investigated enzymes is quite different from the one observed in higher plants. In particular, the apparent lack of a plastidic decarboxylase in P. tricornutum indicates that this diatom does not perform a C4-like CCM.


The role of C4 metabolism in the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

2013-01, Haimovich-Dayan, Maya, Garfinkel, Nitsan, Ewe, Daniela, Marcus, Yehouda, Gruber, Ansgar, Wagner, Heiko, Kroth, Peter G., Kaplan, Aaron

Diatoms are important players in the global carbon cycle. Their apparent photosynthetic affinity for ambient CO(2) is much higher than that of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), indicating that a CO(2)-concentrating mechanism (CCM) is functioning. However, the nature of the CCM, a biophysical or a biochemical C(4), remains elusive. Although (14)C labeling experiments and presence of complete sets of genes for C(4) metabolism in two diatoms supported the presence of C(4), other data and predicted localization of the decarboxylating enzymes, away from Rubisco, makes this unlikely. We used RNA-interference to silence the single gene encoding pyruvate-orthophosphate dikinase (PPDK) in Phaeodactylum tricornutum, essential for C(4) metabolism, and examined the photosynthetic characteristics. The mutants possess much lower ppdk transcript and PPDK activity but the photosynthetic K(1/2) (CO(2)) was hardly affected, thus clearly indicating that the C(4) route does not serve the purpose of raising the CO(2) concentration in close proximity of Rubisco in P. tricornutum. The photosynthetic V(max) was slightly reduced in the mutant, possibly reflecting a metabolic constraint that also resulted in a larger lipid accumulation. We propose that the C(4) metabolism does not function in net CO(2) fixation but helps the cells to dissipate excess light energy and in pH homeostasis.