Original paper

Reduction to essentials: Ostreococcus, the smallest free-living eukaryote

Marin, Birger

Perspectives in Phycology Vol. 1 No. 1 (2014), p. 7 - 10

published: Jun 1, 2014
manuscript accepted: Mar 12, 2014
manuscript received: Feb 21, 2014

DOI: 10.1127/2198-011X/2014/0011

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP271000101002, Price: 24.80 €

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Abstract How can a complex eukaryotic cell reduce its cell size to bacterial dimensions? The microalga Ostreococcus (ca. 0.8–1.3 µm diameter) holds the record in miniaturization among free-living eukaryotes. In this article Ostreococcus is viewed in the evolutionary context of reductive evolution, with special reference to related microalgae in the class Mamiellophyceae, some of which are also extremely small-sized (Micromonas, Bathycoccus). Several aspects of cell compaction are discussed, e.g. mitosis, sexual reproduction, genome reduction, and simplification of cell processes. By studying biological processes in Ostreococcus we can learn, what is really essential for a system’s function. Thus, Ostreococcus has a great potential as highly simplified model organism for plant cell biology, supplementing the already established model organisms.


OstreococcusMamiellophyceaesmallest eukaryotepicoplanktonevolutioncryptic speciessize reductioncircadian clockcell division cyclemitosiscytokinesismeiosissex