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Essay: Silica use as a strategy in diatoms and its contribution to their ecological succes

Rosen Jacobson, R.J. (2016) Essay: Silica use as a strategy in diatoms and its contribution to their ecological succes. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Abstract

It is safe to say that diatoms are highly ecologically successful among all phytoplankton groups. They are found all over the planet’s oceans in a wide variety of environments, from iron-limited polar oceans to tropical coasts, and are the most abundant and diversified phytoplankton group. Unique to nearly all diatoms is that they use the element silica to build glass cases called frustules. One could easily argue that it is because of this unique use of silica that diatoms have become so successful over a relatively short time. This thesis aims to determine to what extent the use of silica in diatoms has been a contributor to their ecological succes. Regardless of the origin of silica use, it is evident that diatoms have adapted actively to be able to maintain and even optimize their highly sophisticated silica processing and frustule production mechanisms. There is much evidence for the many benefits provided by frustules in defense, resource acquisition, etc. that explains this positive selection. Relating diatom diversity and abundance since their origin to geological changes provides evidence that diatoms have benefited from increased bioavailable silica levels to radiate, and that they have optimized their silica uptake and use over time as availability grew smaller and smaller. On the other hand, it is evident that a large part of the radiation of diatoms can be attributed to other strategies in nutrient uptake and usage efficiency, among others, to adapt to stressful environments where they dominate as major opportunistic players. Most of these adaptations are the result of the flexible and ever-changing genome uniquely characteristic of diatoms. Although many of these strategies have directly allowed diatoms to become as ecologically successful as they now are, they have been facilitated through the silica use of diatoms as they benefited from increasing or sudden large natural availabilities of the element and also optimized their uptake and use to provide minimal constraints and enhanced benefits in spread and survival.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:24
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:24
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/14425

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