Diatoms and their microbiomes in complex and changing polar oceans

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Diatoms, a key group of polar marine microbes, support highly productive ocean ecosystems. Like all life on earth, diatoms do not live in isolation, and they are therefore under constant biotic and abiotic pressures which directly influence their evolution through natural selection. Despite their importance in polar ecosystems, polar diatoms are understudied compared to temperate species. The observed rapid change in the polar climate, especially warming, has created increased research interest to discover the underlying causes and potential consequences on single species to entire ecosystems. Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies have greatly expanded our knowledge by revealing the molecular underpinnings of physiological adaptations to polar environmental conditions. Their genomes, transcriptomes, and proteomes together with the first eukaryotic meta-omics data of surface ocean polar microbiomes reflect the environmental pressures through adaptive responses such as the expansion of protein families over time as a consequence of selection. Polar regions and their microbiomes are inherently connected to climate cycles and their feedback loops. An integrated understanding built on “omics” resources centered around diatoms as key primary producers will enable us to reveal unifying concepts of microbial co-evolution and adaptation in polar oceans. This knowledge, which aims to relate past environmental changes to specific adaptations, will be required to improve climate prediction models for polar ecosystems because it provides a unifying framework of how interacting and co-evolving biological communities might respond to future environmental change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number786764
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022


  • diatoms
  • psychrophile
  • genomics
  • meta-omics
  • polar winter
  • Climate Change
  • adaptive evolution
  • microbiomes
  • climate change

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