Johanna Winder, a second-year NRPDTP student based at UEA, has won first prize in the poster competition at the 71st Annual meeting of the British Phycological Society in Newcastle. The poster abstract is below.
The genome of the polar diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus encodes over 47 putative ice-binding proteins (IBPs) containing a domain of unknown function 3494 (DUF3494). The biological role of their diversity has only been minimally explored. Here, a computational approach was used to update the catalogue of IBPs from F. cylindrus, predict subcellular localisation and structural motif presence, model structures, and compare sequences with other polar algal species. FcIBP amino acid sequences were compared to those of other eukaryotic algae and protists, revealing multiple clear groupings and highlighting sequence diversity, supporting acquisition of these genes via horizontal gene transfer. This genetic diversity was reflected by modelled structural diversity, with FcIBPs varying in number of ice-binding domains, transmembrane domain presence and structure, and the presence of one nuclear localisation signal. Finally, expression profiles were explored under a number of conditions. FcIBPs had distinct expression profiles across conditions implying potentially variable biological roles. These results will help guide selection of FcIBPs for in vivo characterisation via establishing a gene silencing protocol for F. cylindrus. IBPs are environmentally important and biotechnologically relevant enzymes and this work will contribute to our understanding of their biology and ecology.