Kroth, Peter G.

Peter G.

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First induced plastid genome mutations in an alga with secondary plastids: psbA mutations in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum (Bacillariophyceae) reveal consequences on the regulation of photosynthesis

2009, Materna, Arne Christian, Sturm, Sabine, Kroth, Peter G., Lavaud, Johann

Diatoms play a crucial role in the biochemistry and ecology of most aquatic ecosystems, especially because of their high photosynthetic productivity. They often have to cope with a fluctuating light climate and a punctuated exposure to excess light, which can be harmful for photosynthesis. To gain insight into the regulation of photosynthesis in diatoms, we generated and studied mutants of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum Bohlin carrying functionally altered versions of the plastidic psbA gene encoding the D1 protein of the PSII reaction center (PSII RC). All analyzed mutants feature an amino acid substitution in the vicinity of the QB-binding pocket of D1. We characterized the photosynthetic capacity of the mutants in comparison to wildtype cells, focusing on the way they regulate their photochemistry as a function of light intensity. The results show that the mutations resulted in constitutive changes of PSII electron transport rates. The extent of the impairment varies between mutants depending on the proximity of the mutation to the QB-binding pocket and/or to the nonheme iron within the PSII RC. The effects of the mutations described here for P. tricornutum are similar to effects in cyanobacteria and green microalgae, emphasizing the conservation of the D1 protein structure among photosynthetic organisms of different evolutionary origins.


Protein targeting into complex diatom plastids: functional characterization of a specific targeting motif

2007, Gruber, Ansgar, Vugrinec, Sascha, Hempel, Franziska, Gould, Sven B., Maier, Uwe-G., Kroth, Peter G.

Plastids of diatoms and related algae evolved by secondary endocytobiosis, the uptake of a eukaryotic alga into a eukaryotic host cell and its subsequent reduction into an organelle. As a result diatom plastids are surrounded by four membranes. Protein targeting of nucleus encoded plastid proteins across these membranes depends on N-terminal bipartite presequences consisting of a signal and a transit peptide-like domain. Diatoms and cryptophytes share a conserved amino acid motif of unknown function at the cleavage site of the signal peptides (ASAFAP), which is particularly important for successful plastid targeting. Screening genomic databases we found that in rare cases the very conserved phenylalanine within the motif may be replaced by tryptophan, tyrosine or leucine. To test such unusual presequences for functionality and to better understand the role of the motif and putative receptor proteins involved in targeting, we constructed presequence: GFP fusion proteins with or without modifications of the "ASAFAP"-motif and expressed them in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum. In this comprehensive mutational analysis we found that only the aromatic amino acids phenylalanine, tryptophan, tyrosine and the bulky amino acid leucine at the +1 position of the predicted signal peptidase cleavage site allow plastid import, as expected from the sequence comparison of native plastid targeting presequences of P. tricornutum and the cryptophyte Guillardia theta. Deletions within the signal peptide domains also impaired plastid import, showing that the presence of F at the N-terminus of the transit peptide together with a cleavable signal peptide is crucial for plastid import.


Bacteria associated with benthic diatoms from Lake Constance : phylogeny and influences on diatom growth and secretion of extracellular polymeric substances

2008, Bruckner, Christian G., Bahulikar, Rahul A., Rahalkar, Monali, Schink, Bernhard, Kroth, Peter G.

The composition of diatom-associated bacterial communities was studied with 14 different unialgal xenic diatom cultures isolated from freshwater epilithic biofilms of Lake Constance, Germany. A clear dominance of Alphaproteobacteria was observed, followed by Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Verrucomicrobia. Pure cultures of the diatom Cymbella microcephala, which was found to be dominant in epilithic biofilms in Lake Constance, were cocultivated with six associated bacterial strains. All these bacterial strains were able to grow in C. microcephala cultures in the absence of organic cosubstrates. Diatom growth was generally enhanced in the presence of bacteria, and polysaccharide secretion was generally increased in the presence of Proteobacteria. The monomer composition of extracellular polysaccharides of C. microcephala changed in relation to the presence of different bacteria, but the dominant monomers were less affected. Our results indicate that these changes were caused by the diatom itself rather than by specific bacterial degradation. One Bacteroidetes strain strongly influenced carbohydrate secretion by the alga via extracellular soluble compounds. Biofilms were formed only in the presence of bacteria. Phylogenetic analysis and coculture studies indicate an adaptation of Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes to the microenvironment created by the diatom biofilm.


A Model for Carbohydrate Metabolism in the Diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum Deduced from Comparative Whole Genome Analysis

2008, Kroth, Peter G., Chiovitti, Anthony, Gruber, Ansgar, Martin-Jezequel, Veronique, Mock, Thomas, Schnitzler Parker, Micaela, Stanley, Michele S., Kaplan, Aaron, Caron, Lise, Weber, Till, Maheswari, Uma, Armbrust, Elisabeth Virginia, Bowler, Chris, Kroymann, Juergen

Diatoms are unicellular algae responsible for approximately 20% of global carbon fixation. Their evolution by secondary endocytobiosis resulted in a complex cellular structure and metabolism compared to algae with primary plastids.
Methodology/Principal Findings:
The whole genome sequence of the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum has recently been completed. We identified and annotated genes for enzymes involved in carbohydrate pathways based on extensive EST support and comparison to the whole genome sequence of a second diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana. Protein localization to mitochondria was predicted based on identified similarities to mitochondrial localization motifs in other eukaryotes, whereas protein localization to plastids was based on the presence of signal peptide motifs in combination with plastid localization motifs previously shown to be required in diatoms. We identified genes potentially involved in a C4-like photosynthesis in P. tricornutum and, on the basis of sequence-based putative localization of relevant proteins, discuss possible differences in carbon concentrating mechanisms and CO2 fixation between the two diatoms. We also identified genes encoding enzymes involved in photorespiration with one interesting exception: glycerate kinase was not found in either P. tricornutum or T. pseudonana. Various Calvin cycle enzymes were found in up to five different isoforms, distributed between plastids, mitochondria and the cytosol. Diatoms store energy either as lipids or as chrysolaminaran (a β-1,3-glucan) outside of the plastids. We identified various β-glucanases and large membrane-bound glucan synthases. Interestingly most of the glucanases appear to contain C-terminal anchor domains that may attach the enzymes to membranes.
Here we present a detailed synthesis of carbohydrate metabolism in diatoms based on the genome sequences of Thalassiosira pseudonana and Phaeodactylum tricornutum. This model provides novel insights into acquisition of dissolved inorganic carbon and primary metabolic pathways of carbon in two different diatoms, which is of significance for an improved understanding of global carbon cycles.