The response of diatom central carbon metabolism to nitrogen starvation is different to that of green algae and higher plants

The availability of nitrogen varies greatly in the ocean and limits primary productivity over large areas. Diatoms, a group of phytoplankton that are responsible for about 20% of global carbon fixation, respond rapidly to influxes of nitrate and are highly successful in upwelling regions. Although recent diatom genome projects have highlighted clues to the success of this group, very little is known about their adaptive response to changing environmental conditions. Here, we compare the proteome of the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana (CCMP 1335) at the onset of nitrogen starvation with that of nitrogen-replete cells using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. In total, 3,310 protein spots were distinguishable, and we identified 42 proteins increasing and 23 decreasing in abundance (greater than 1.5-fold change; P < 0.005). Proteins involved in the metabolism of nitrogen, amino acids, proteins, and carbohydrates, photosynthesis, and chlorophyll biosynthesis were represented. Comparison of our proteomics data with the transcriptome response of this species under similar growth conditions showed good correlation and provided insight into different levels of response. The T. pseudonana response to nitrogen starvation was also compared with that of the higher plant Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus marinus. We have found that the response of diatom carbon metabolism to nitrogen starvation is different from that of other photosynthetic eukaryotes and bears closer resemblance to the response of cyanobacteria.