Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used to study carbon allocation patterns in response to N-star-vation in the nearly ubiquitous diatom Chaetoceros muellerii. The role of gene expression, protein synthesis and trans-amination on the organic composition of cells was tested by using specific inhibitors. The results show that inhibition of key processes in algal metabolism influence the macromolecular composition of cells and and prior cell nutritional state can influence a cell’s response to changing nutrient availability. The allocation of C can thus lead to different organic composition depending on the nutritional context, with obvious repercussions for the trophic web. This also shows that C allocation in algal cells is highly flexible and that C (and the energy associated with its allocation) can be variably and rapidly partitioned in algal cells in response to relatively short term perturbations. Furthermore, the data confirm and extend the utility of infrared spectroscopy as a probe of the metabolic state of autotrophic cells.
- Cell composition