Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/78540
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Type: Journal article
Title: The role of diatom nanostructures in biasing diffusion to improve uptake in a patchy nutrient environment
Author: Mitchell, J.
Seuront, L.
Doubell, M.
Losic, D.
Voelcker, N.
Seymour, J.
Lal, R.
Citation: PLoS One, 2013; 8(5):1-9
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 1932-6203
1932-6203
Statement of
Responsibility: 
James G. Mitchell, Laurent Seuront, Mark J. Doubell, Dusan Losic, Nicolas H. Voelcker, Justin Seymour and Ratnesh Lal
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Diatoms are important single-celled autotrophs that dominate most lit aquatic environments and are distinguished by surficial frustules with intricate designs of unknown function. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We show that some frustule designs constrain diffusion to positively alter nutrient uptake. In nutrient gradients of 4 to 160 times over, 5 cm, the screened-chambered morphology of Coscincodiscus sp. biases the nutrient diffusion towards the cell by at least 3.8 times the diffusion to the seawater. In contrast, the open-chambers of Thalassiosira eccentrica produce at least a 1.3 times diffusion advantage to the membrane over Coscincodiscus sp. when nutrients are homogeneous. SIGNIFICANCE: Diffusion constraint explains the success of particular diatom species at given times and the overall success of diatoms. The results help answer the unresolved question of how adjacent microplankton compete. Furthermore, diffusion constraint by supramembrane nanostructures to alter molecular diffusion suggests that microbes compete via supramembrane topology, a competitive mechanism not considered by the standard smooth-surface equations used for nutrient uptake nor in microbial ecology and cell physiology.
Keywords: Cell Membrane; Extracellular Space; Cell Wall; Phytoplankton; Diatoms; Environment; Diffusion; Biological Transport; Nanostructures
Description: Extent: 9 p.
Rights: Copyright: © 2013 Mitchell et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
RMID: 0020128310
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059548
Appears in Collections:Chemical Engineering publications

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