Productivity of Antarctic diatom Nitzschia lecointei with the addition of betaine under different salinities
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In the Antarctic, psychrophilic diatoms such as Nitzschia lecointei maintain cell homeostasis under harsh conditions. These harsh conditions include salinity shifts from 35 to 212 (Krell 2006). In order to maintain homeostasis N. lecointei utilizes compatible solutes such as betaine ((CH3)3N+CH2COO-). Diatoms are able to utilize these compatible solutes from their environment, as well as being able to produce them within their cells. It has previously been observed that bacterium and diatom cell regulation is aided by compatible solutes in order to withstand drastic changes from salinity in their environment. In this experiment I examined whether there would be a significant increase in cell biomass, growth rate, or a change in cell diameter at 34 psu and 44 psu with the addition of 200 µM of betaine. I also examined the amount of fluorescence per cell with the addition of 200 µM of betaine. No impact on the measured variable of biomass, growth rate or cell diameter was found though there was an increase in fluorescence per cell. It is important to understand how cell size and growth will be effected as climate changes and salinity is effected in the natural world. This is especially important in psychrophilic diatoms such as N. lecointei, which have a special affinity to ice in the Antarctic.