Genome variations associated with viral susceptibility and calcification in Emiliania huxleyi

Stephan.Frickenhaus [ at ]


Emiliania huxleyi, a key player in the global carbon cycle is one of the best studied coccolithophores with respect to biogeochemical cycles, climatology, and host-virus interactions. Strains of E. huxleyi show phenotypic plasticity regarding growth behaviour, light-response, calcification, acidification, and virus susceptibility. This phenomenon is likely a consequence of genomic differences, or transcriptomic responses, to environmental conditions or threats such as viral infections. We used an E. huxleyi genome microarray based on the sequenced strain CCMP1516 (reference strain) to perform comparative genomic hybridizations (CGH) of 16 E. huxleyi strains of different geographic origin. We investigated the genomic diversity and plasticity and focused on the identification of genes related to virus susceptibility and coccolith production (calcification). Among the tested 31940 gene models a core genome of 14628 genes was identified by hybridization among 16 E. huxleyi strains. 224 probes were characterized as specific for the reference strain CCMP1516. Compared to the sequenced E. huxleyi strain CCMP1516 variation in gene content of up to 30 percent among strains was observed. Comparison of core and non-core transcripts sets in terms of annotated functions reveals a broad, almost equal functional coverage over all KOG-categories of both transcript sets within the whole annotated genome. Within the variable (non-core) genome we identified genes associated with virus susceptibility and calcification. Genes associated with virus susceptibility include a Bax inhibitor-1 protein, three LRR receptor-like protein kinases, and mitogen-activated protein kinase. Our list of transcripts associated with coccolith production will stimulate further research, e.g. by genetic manipulation. In particular, the V-type proton ATPase 16 kDa proteolipid subunit is proposed to be a plausible target gene for further calcification studies.

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DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0080684

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Kegel, J. , John, U. , Valentin, K. U. and Frickenhaus, S. (2013): Genome variations associated with viral susceptibility and calcification in Emiliania huxleyi , PLoS ONE, 8(11) (e80684) . doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080684

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