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Multiple losses of photosynthesis in Nitzschia (Bacillariophyceae)

Kamikawa, Ryoma, Yubuki, Naoji, Yoshida, Masaki, Taira, Misaka, Nakamura, Noriaki, Ishida, Ken‐ichiro, Leander, Brian S., Miyashita, Hideaki, Hashimoto, Tetsuo, Mayama, Shigeki, Inagaki, Yuji
Phycological research 2015 v.63 no.1 pp. 19-28
Nitzschia, chlorophyll, fluorescence microscopy, genes, lifestyle, monophyly, nutrition, photosynthesis, ribosomal RNA, thylakoids, transmission electron microscopy
In order to obtain insights into the evolution of colorless (apochlorotic) diatoms, we investigated newly established apochlorotic strains of Nitzschia spp. using light and electron microscopy and molecular phylogenetic analyses. Fluorescence microscopic observations demonstrated that the apochlorotic diatoms lack chlorophylls. Transmission electron microscopy of two apochlorotic strains also demonstrated that their plastids lacked thylakoids; instead, having four‐membrane‐bound organelles without thylakoids, similar to nonphotosynthetic plastid remnants. From the apochlorotic strains, we also found plastid small subunit rRNA genes that were unusually long branched in phylogenetic analyses, as observed in other nonphotosynthetic plastids. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the nucleus‐encoded large subunit rRNA genes showed eight distinct lineages for apochlorotic diatoms. The eight apochlorotic lineages were not monophyletic, suggesting that the loss of photosynthesis took place multiple times independently within Nitzschia. Several diatoms, including Nitzschia spp., are mixotrophic, which is an expected mode of nutrition that would help explain the evolutionary switch from a photosynthetic lifestyle to a heterotrophic lifestyle.