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Diatom-derived aldehdyes as molecular signals in benthic marine environments

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gary Caldwell, Emeritus Professor Matt Bentley, Emeritus Professor Peter Olive


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Diatoms liberate a suite of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) following cell membrane disruption. Of these VOCs, unsaturated short chain aldehydes (SCAs), particularly the decadienals and decatrienals, have been identified as highly toxic to the reproductive processes and early developmental stages of invertebrate grazers. The SCAs are cytotoxic and teratogenic and can potentially limit invertebrate population recruitment success. In addition to an anti-herbivory function, it has been postulated that SCAs also function as allelochemicals. Diatoms are capable of detecting the presence of SCAs in their environment with exposure eliciting an intracellular calcium signal response resulting in the eventual death of the cell. Here we explore the hypothesis that diatom-derived SCAs are functioning as infochemicals in marine systems by directly influencing the evolution of invertebrate life history strategies, forcing susceptible species to spawn in sub-optimal environmental conditions. In addition, we shall discuss the possibility that SCAs and other diatom-derived bioactive molecules are functioning as molecular signals in diatom-dominated biofilms.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Caldwell GS, Bentley MG, Olive PJW

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Annual Meeting of the British Phycological Society

Year of Conference: 2004

Notes: Oral presentation.