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Mar Biotechnol (NY). 1999 May;1(3):239-251.

Transformation of Nonselectable Reporter Genes in Marine Diatoms.

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Laboratory of Molecular Plant Biology, Stazione Zoologica, Villa Comunale, I-80121 Naples, Italy


: We report the genetic transformation of two marine diatoms by microparticle bombardment. The pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum was transformed with the bacterial gene Sh ble from Streptoalloteichus hindustanus, which confers resistance to the antibiotics phleomycin and zeocin. Transformants contained between 1 and 10 copies of the exogenous DNA integrated into the genome by illegitimate recombination at apparently random locations. Transformation efficiencies were around 10(-6), and individual cell lines could be maintained at -80 degrees C following cryopreservation. Also, P. tricornutum could be transformed simultaneously with two different plasmids, one containing the Sh ble gene and another containing the firefly luciferase gene (LUC) under control of a promoter derived from a fucoxanthin, chlorophyll a/c-binding protein gene (FCP). In these cotransformants, LUC activity was light inducible. The transient transformation of the centric diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii with the bacterial beta-glucuronidase (GUS) gene has also been achieved using similar transformation technology. The availability of gene transfer protocols for marine diatoms, together with a range of functional reporter genes and regulated expression systems, will permit molecular dissection of their biology and allow an assessment of the biotechnological potential of these organisms.


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