The wide-spread coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi is a unicellular eukaryotic alga, responsible for the largest oceanic algal blooms covering thousands of square kilometers. Annual E. huxleyi spring blooms are frequently terminated by infection of a specific large dsDNA virus (E. huxleyi virus, EhV). We study the molecular basis for this host-virus arms race.
Infochemicals are the information-conveying chemicals that have a functional role in regulating intercellular signaling and cell fate of microorganisms. We explore the role of infochemicals in three major biotic interactions that have profound significance in controlling algal bloom dynamics in the oceans; cell-cell communication, predator-prey and host-virus interactions.
Living within the chemo-physical gradient of light, nutrients and infochemicals, marine algae require cellular mechanisms to rapidly respond to these diverse signals. It only recently became apparent that phytoplankton utilize diverse cell signaling acclimation strategies to cope with environmental stress conditions. Still, very little is known about the molecular basis for their ability to sense and acclimate to environmental stress conditions, leading to their ecological success.