Functional Relationship between a Dinoflagellate Host and Its Diatom Endosymbiont

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Abstract

While we know much about the evolutionary patterns of endosymbiotic organelle origins, we know less about how the actual process unfolded within each system. This is partly due to the massive changes endosymbiosis appears to trigger, and partly because most organelles evolved in the distant past. The dinotoms are dinoflagellates with diatom endosymbionts, and they represent a relatively recent but nevertheless obligate endosymbiotic association. We have carried out deep sequencing of both the host and endosymbiont transcriptomes from two dinotoms, Durinskia baltica and Glenodinium foliaceum, to examine how the nucleocytosolic compartments have functionally integrated. This analysis showed little or no functional reduction in either the endosymbiont or host, and no evidence for genetic integration. Rather, host and endosymbiont seem to be bound to each other via metabolites, such as photosynthate exported from the endosymbiont to the host as indicated by the presence of plastidic phosphate translocators in the host transcriptome. The host is able to synthesize starch, using plant-specific starch synthases, as a way to store imported photosynthate.

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