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Minidiscus variabilis
Image is used with the kind permission of the National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (https://ncma.bigelow.org/ccmp495).

Minidiscus variabilis CCMP495

Diatoms play a significant role in carbon fixation with 40% of primary production in the ocean. Minidiscus spp. are the smallest known centric diatoms of the marine phytoplankton (with most of the cells from the natural environment ranging from 2 to 5 um in diameter). Minidiscus was first described by Hasle in 1973 (Hasle 1973). The absence of the marginal fultoportulae in Minidiscus separates it from the genus Thalassiosira. The genus Minidiscus currently comprises 11 species. Due to their tiny size and the lack of unique pigment, Minidiscus spp. are not readily detectable using classical light microscopy, flow cytometry, or pigment-based methods. Nonetheless, recent molecular studies based on the 18s rRNA amplicon libraries show that they have cosmopolitan distributions and occur at high cell densities in spring algal bloom in the Mediterranean Sea (Leblanc et al, 2018).

While multiple studies have been conducted so far, the molecular mechanism behind algal blooms is not fully understood. More diatoms should be examined at the whole genome level, and therefore the whole genome of Minidiscus variabilis CCMP495 was sequenced to better investigate the landscape of molecular mechanisms of algal blooms as well as carbon sequestration. Besides, the genome of Minidiscus variabilis is also serving as a reference for sequencing single-cell oceanic samples.


Hasle, Grethe R. "Some marine plankton genera of the diatom family Thalassiosiraceae." Nova Hedwigia, Beih 45 (1973): 1-49.

Leblanc, Karine, et al. "Nanoplanktonic diatoms are globally overlooked but play a role in spring blooms and carbon export." Nature communications 9.1 (2018): 1-12.