Ubiquitous marine bacterium inhibits diatom cell division

Helena M. Van Tol, Shady A. Amin, E. Virginia Armbrust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intricate relationships between microorganisms structure the exchange of molecules between taxa, driving their physiology and evolution. On a global scale, this molecular trade is an integral component of biogeochemical cycling. As important microorganisms in the world's oceans, diatoms and bacteria have a large impact on marine biogeochemistry. Here, we describe antagonistic effects of the globally distributed flavobacterium Croceibacter atlanticus on a phylogenetically diverse group of diatoms. We used the model diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana to study the antagonistic impact in more detail. In co-culture, C. atlanticus attaches to T. pseudonana and inhibits cell division, inducing diatom cells to become larger and increase in chlorophyll a fluorescence. These changes could be explained by an absence of cytokinesis that causes individual T. pseudonana cells to elongate, accumulate more plastids and become polyploid. These morphological changes could benefit C. atlanticus by augmenting the colonizable surface area of the diatom, its photosynthetic capabilities and possibly its metabolic secretions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalISME Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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