Capturing Carbon in the Oceans: Second Diatom Genome Sequenced at DOE-Joint Genome Institute (JGI)

The completed P. tricornutum genome is approximately 27.4 megabases (Mb) in size.

The Science

A 77-person team of researchers from 31 scientific institutions, including the Joint Genome Institute, reports the complete sequence of a second diatom, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and an initial comparison with the first sequenced diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana, also sequenced at the DOE-JGI. Responsible for up to 40% of CO2 capture in the oceans, diatoms play major roles in global carbon sequestration and processing. Preliminary analysis of the P. tricornutum genome suggests a significant degree of acquisition of large sets of genes (perhaps more than 5%) from prokaryotic organisms with subsequent adaptation to the needs of the diatom for carbon and nitrogen processing. Analysis of molecular divergence compared with yeasts and metazoans reveals rapid rates of gene diversification in diatoms. Contributing factors include selective gene family expansions, differential losses and gains of genes and introns, and differential mobilization of transposable elements. Most significantly, researchers document the presence of hundreds of genes from bacteria. More than 300 of these gene transfers are found in both diatoms, attesting to their ancient origins, and many are likely to provide novel possibilities for metabolite management and for perception of environmental signals.

BER Program Manager

Ramana Madupu

U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Biological Systems Science Division
[email protected]


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