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Mating type specific transcriptomic response to sex inducing pheromone in the pennate diatom Seminavis robusta

By Gust Bilcke, Koen Van den Berge, Sam De Decker, Eli Bonneure, Nicole Poulsen, Petra Bulankova, Cristina Maria Osuna-Cruz, Jack Dickenson, Koen Sabbe, Georg Pohnert, Klaas Vandepoele, Sven Mangelinckx, Lieven Clement, Lieven De Veylder, Wim Vyverman

Posted 18 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.16.987719 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41396-020-00797-7)

Sexual reproduction is a fundamental phase in the life cycle of most diatoms. Despite its role as a source of genetic variation, it is rarely reported in nature and its molecular foundations remain largely unknown. Here, we integrate independent transcriptomic datasets, in order to prioritize genes responding to sex inducing pheromones (SIPs) in the pennate diatom Seminavis robusta. We observe marked gene expression changes associated with SIP treatment in both mating types, including an inhibition of S-phase progression, chloroplast division, mitosis and cell wall formation. Meanwhile, meiotic genes are upregulated in response to SIP, including a sexually induced diatom specific cyclin (dsCyc). Our data further suggest an important role for reactive oxygen species, energy metabolism and cGMP signaling during the early stages of sexual reproduction. In addition, we identify several genes with a mating type specific response to SIP, and link their expression pattern with physiological responses such as the production of the attraction pheromone diproline and mate-searching behaviour in MT+. Combined, our results provide a model for early sexual reproduction in pennate diatoms and significantly expand the suite of target genes to detect sexual reproduction events in natural diatom populations.

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