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Diatom fucan polysaccharide precipitates carbon during algal blooms

Lookup NU author(s): Professor William WillatsORCiD


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© 2021, The Author(s).The formation of sinking particles in the ocean, which promote carbon sequestration into deeper water and sediments, involves algal polysaccharides acting as an adhesive, binding together molecules, cells and minerals. These as yet unidentified adhesive polysaccharides must resist degradation by bacterial enzymes or else they dissolve and particles disassemble before exporting carbon. Here, using monoclonal antibodies as analytical tools, we trace the abundance of 27 polysaccharide epitopes in dissolved and particulate organic matter during a series of diatom blooms in the North Sea, and discover a fucose-containing sulphated polysaccharide (FCSP) that resists enzymatic degradation, accumulates and aggregates. Previously only known as a macroalgal polysaccharide, we find FCSP to be secreted by several globally abundant diatom species including the genera Chaetoceros and Thalassiosira. These findings provide evidence for a novel polysaccharide candidate to contribute to carbon sequestration in the ocean.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vidal-Melgosa S, Sichert A, Francis TB, Bartosik D, Niggemann J, Wichels A, Willats WGT, Fuchs BM, Teeling H, Becher D, Schweder T, Amann R, Hehemann J-H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Communications

Year: 2021

Volume: 12

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 19/02/2021

Acceptance date: 05/01/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2041-1723

Publisher: Nature Research


DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21009-6


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