Genomics and Genetics of Diatoms

Thomas Mock, Linda K. Medlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Citations (Scopus)


Diatoms are unicellular eukaryotes with nano-patterned silica cell walls and they contribute about 20% of global primary production. Their beautiful shells and significance for life on our planet already caused scientific interest many centuries ago. However, the development of genetics and genomics-enabled technology about two decades ago and their application to diatom research has caused a step change in our understanding of diatom evolution, biology and ecology. In contrast to plants and green algae, which were derived from primary endosymbiosis, diatom evolution seems to be based on secondary endosymbiosis involving green and red algae as endosymbionts and a heterotrophic exosymbiont that is believed to have provided the ability to use silicate for an external cell wall made of silica. This review will discuss how results obtained by the application of genetics and genomics have impacted our understanding of diatoms. We will provide evidence for how their complex evolution has shaped key features of their biology and their global distribution by adaptive diversification to very different habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Botanical Research
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameAdvances in Botanical Research
ISSN (Print)0065-2296


  • Adaptation
  • Diatom
  • Evolution
  • Genomics
  • Life cycle
  • Ocean
  • Plastids
  • Polar
  • Silica

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