The Smell of Danger

Wednesday 21 Mar 18


Thomas Kiørboe
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 01

Diatoms change chain-formation and up-or downregulate thousands of genes when smelling copepod grazers

Many species of phytoplankton have defence mechanisms that are activated in response to the smell of their grazers. The common chain forming diatom, Skeletonema marinoi, for example, reduce the length of their chains when smelling copepods, which presumably makes the cells less susceptible to copepod grazing. In a new study we show that this is facilitated by a massive down- and up-regulation of genes, including those that are related to signal transduction, stress responses, cell cycle regulation, and shell formation. Phytoplankton–grazer interactions are key factors in shaping pelagic food webs, but indirect effects and defence responses mediated by grazer signals, such as the response dissected in our study, may at times be more important than grazing mortality itself in defining ecosystem function. We are currently exploring defence strategies in plankton and this study helps us understand the mechanisms involved.

The paper can be read here.

Amato A, Sabatino V, Nylund G, Bergkvist J, Basu S, Anderson M,Sanges R, Godhe A, Kiørboe T, Selander E, Ferrante MI (2018) Grazer-induced transcriptomic and metabolomic response of the chain-forming diatom Skeletonema marinoi. ISME Journal,
12 JULY 2020