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Dissection of signal transduction cascades regulating inter and intra-species interactions among phytoplankton assemblages in the marine environment


Diatoms are among the most important groups of eukaryotic phytoplankton, responsible for 40% of marine primary productivity. Thus, understanding the molecular basis for their ecological success is therefore essential. Current knowledge of diatom perception and response to changes in the marine environment and the cellular cascades that mediate acclimation to stress conditions is fragmentary. Both [Caz+]cyt and Nitric oxide (NO) have recently been established as important secondary messengers in stress response s in plants and animals.

The cross talk between these signalling molecules seems to be central in understanding the cascade leading to the determination of cell fate. My goal is to investigate the role of NO and Ca2+ as second messengers in marine diatoms in response to biotic interactions mediated by all elochemicals. In addition, I will study potential infochemicals as activators of the cell death/defence signalling cascade at the cellular and population levels indiatoms. The availability of a and quot;Ca2+ detection system and quot; in the host laboratory coupled with the instrumentation for the analysis of the cell and apos;s redox status, complemented by the use of genomic and post-genomic techniques will make the goal of this work achievable within the framework of my visit.

Furthermore the host laboratory is responsible for the recent advances in diatoms, such as the development of gene transfer protocols and generation of 12,000 expressed sequence tags (EST and apos;s). The first complete genome sequence from a diatom (Thalassiosira pseudonana) has recently become available for understanding diatom biology. This research will allow dissection of the signal transduction pathways involved in inter- and intra-organismal dynamics in marine phytoplankton.

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