Integrated systems biology and imaging of the smallest free-living eukaryote <em>Ostreococcus tauri</em>

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TitleIntegrated systems biology and imaging of the smallest free-living eukaryote Ostreococcus tauri
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSmallwood CR, Chen J-H, Kumar N, Chrisler W, Purvine SO, Kyle JE, Nicora CD, Boudreau R, Ekman A, Hixson KK, Moore RJ, McDermott G, Cannon WR, Evans JE
Journal TitlebioRxiv
Journal Date2018-01-01 00:00

Ostreococcus tauri is an ancient phototrophic microalgae that possesses favorable genetic and cellular characteristics for reductionist studies probing biosystem design and dynamics. Here multimodal bioimaging and multi-omics techniques were combined to interrogate O. tauri cellular changes in response to variations in bioavailable nitrogen and carbon ratios. Confocal microscopy, stimulated Raman scattering, and cryo-soft x-ray tomography revealed whole cell ultrastructural dynamics and composition while proteomic and lipidomic profiling captured changes at the molecular and macromolecular scale. Despite several energy dense long-chain triacylglycerol lipids showing more than 40-fold higher abundance under N deprivation, only a few proteins directly associated with lipid biogenesis showed significant expression changes. However, the entire pathway for starch granule biosynthesis was highly upregulated suggesting much of the cellular energy is preferentially directed towards starch over lipid accumulation. Additionally, three of the five most downregulated and five of the ten most upregulated proteins during severe nitrogen depletion were unnamed protein products that warrant additional biochemical analysis and functional annotation to control carbon transformation dynamics in this smallest eukaryote.