Diatoms favor their younger daughters

Samuel R. Laney, Robert J. Olson and Heidi M. Sosik

Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(5), 2012, 1572-1578 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2012.57.5.1572

ABSTRACT: We used a time-lapse imaging approach to examine cell division in the marine centric diatom Ditylum brightwellii and observed that daughter cells who inherited their parents' hypothecal frustule half were more likely to divide before their sisters. This is consistent with observations in Escherichia coli of a bias between sister cells, where faster growth in one sister is thought to arise from its inheriting parental material with less oxidative damage. We also observed that hypothecal sisters in D. brightwellii were more likely to inherit a greater proportion of their parents' cellular material, similar to what has been seen in E. coli. We found a statistically significant correlation between the amount of parental material inherited by a hypothecal daughter and its relative division rate, indicating that this extra material inherited by the hypothecal daughter plays a role in its more rapid division. Furthermore, the intercept in this regression was greater than zero, indicating that other factors, such as differences in the quality of inherited material, also play a role. This similarity between two taxonomically distant microbes suggests that favoritism toward one daughter might occur broadly among unicellular organisms that reproduce asexually by binary fission. Such a bias in cell division might be advantageous, given model predictions that show that favoring one daughter at the expense of the other can result in higher population growth rates, increasing the chance that a cell's genotype will survive compared to a model where the daughters divide at equal rates.

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