Survey of the chemical defence potential of diatoms: screening of fifty species for α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehydes



Publication Details

Wichard, T., Poulet, S., Halsband-Lenk, C., Albaina, A., Harris, R., Liu, D. & Pohnert, G. (2005). Survey of the Chemical Defence Potential of Diatoms: Screening of Fifty Species for α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehydes. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 31 (4), 949-958.


In recent years a negative influence of diatom-derived α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehydes (PUA) on the reproductive success of copepods and invertebrates has been suggested. Since adverse chemical properties of diatoms would question the traditional view of the marine food web, this defense mechanism has been investigated in detail, but the PUA-release by test organisms has only been determined in a few cases. The observed effects were nevertheless frequently discussed from a general point of view often leading to contradictory conclusions. We have examined the PUA-production of 50 diatom species (71 isolates) in order to provide a basis for the interpretation of laboratory and field results on the influence of diatom food on the reproductive success of their consumers. PUA-production is species and strain dependent. Thirty-six percent of the investigated species (38% of the cultivated isolates) release α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehydes upon cell disruption in concentrations from 0.01 to 9.8 fmol per cell. Thalassiosira rotula and Thalassiosira pacifica, major spring-bloom forming diatoms isolated from Roscoff (Bretagne, English Channel, France) and Puget Sound (Washington, USA) were among the PUA-producing strains.

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