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Constitutively Up-regulated Carbon Metabolism is an Adaptation to Low Temperature in the Antarctic Psychrophile Chlamydomonas sp. UWO241
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  • Marina Cvetkovska,
  • Beth Szyszka-Mroz,
  • Nina Malczewski,
  • David Smith,
  • Norman P. A. Huner
Marina Cvetkovska
University of Ottawa
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Beth Szyszka-Mroz
University of Western Ontario
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Nina Malczewski
University of Western Ontario
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David Smith
University of Western Ontario
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Norman P. A. Huner
University of Western Ontario
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Abstract

The Antarctic alga Chlamydomonas sp. UWO241 is an obligate psychrophile that thrives in the cold but is unable to survive at moderate, seemingly innocuous temperatures. We dissect the responses of UWO241 to temperature stress using global metabolomic approaches. UWO241 exhibits slow growth at 4°C, a temperature closest to its natural habitat, and faster growth at higher temperatures of 10-15°C. We demonstrate that the slower growth-rate characteristic of UWO241 at 4⁰C is not necessarily a hallmark of stress. UWO241 constitutively accumulates high levels of protective metabolites including soluble sugars, polyamines and antioxidants at a range of steady-state temperatures. In contrast, the mesophile Chlamydomonas reinhardtii accumulates these metabolites only during cold stress. Despite low growth rates, 4°C-grown UWO241 cultures had a higher capacity to respond to heat stress (24°C) and accumulated increased amounts of antioxidants, lipids and soluble sugars, when compared to cultures grown at 10-15°C. We conclude that the slower growth rate and the unique psychrophilic physiological characteristic of UWO241 grown at 4⁰C result in a permanently re-routed steady-state metabolism, which contributes to its increased resistance to heat stress. Our work adds to the growing body of research on temperature stress in psychrophiles, many of which are threatened by climate change.