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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Identification and characterization of microRNAs from Phaeodactylum tricornutum by high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics analysis

Aiyou Huang12, Linwen He12 and Guangce Wang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Experimental Marine Biology, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IOCAS), Nanhai Road 7, Qingdao 266071, China

2 School of Earth Science, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yuquan Road 19, Beijing 100049, China

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:337  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-337

Published: 30 June 2011



Diatoms, which are important planktons widespread in various aquatic environments, are believed to play a vital role in primary production as well as silica cycling. The genomes of the pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum and the centric diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana have been sequenced, revealing some characteristics of the diatoms' mosaic genome as well as some features of their fatty acid metabolism and urea cycle, and indicating their unusual properties. To identify microRNAs (miRNAs) from P. tricornutum and to study their probable roles in nitrogen and silicon metabolism, we constructed and sequenced small RNA (sRNA) libraries from P. tricornutum under normal (PT1), nitrogen-limited (PT2) and silicon-limited (PT3) conditions.


A total of 13 miRNAs were identified. They were probable P. tricornutum-specific novel miRNAs. These miRNAs were sequenced from P. tricornutum under normal, nitrogen-limited and/or silicon-limited conditions, and their potential targets were involved in various processes, such as signal transduction, protein amino acid phosphorylation, fatty acid biosynthetic process, regulation of transcription and so on.


Our results indicated that P. tricornutum contained novel miRNAs that have no identifiable homologs in other organisms and that they might play important regulator roles in P. tricornutum metabolism.