Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 949–958 | Cite as

Survey of the Chemical Defence Potential of Diatoms: Screening of Fifty Species for α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehydes

  • Thomas Wichard
  • Serge A. Poulet
  • Claudia Halsband-Lenk
  • Aitor Albaina
  • Roger Harris
  • Dongyan Liu
  • Georg PohnertEmail author
Rapid Communication


In recent years a negative influence of diatom-derived α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehydes (PUA) on the reproductive success of copepods and invertebrates has been suggested. Since adverse chemical properties of diatoms would question the traditional view of the marine food web, this defense mechanism has been investigated in detail, but the PUA-release by test organisms has only been determined in a few cases. The observed effects were nevertheless frequently discussed from a general point of view often leading to contradictory conclusions. We have examined the PUA-production of 50 diatom species (71 isolates) in order to provide a basis for the interpretation of laboratory and field results on the influence of diatom food on the reproductive success of their consumers. PUA-production is species and strain dependent. Thirty-six percent of the investigated species (38% of the cultivated isolates) release α,β,γ,δ-unsaturated aldehydes upon cell disruption in concentrations from 0.01 to 9.8 fmol per cell. Thalassiosira rotula and Thalassiosira pacifica, major spring-bloom forming diatoms isolated from Roscoff (Bretagne, English Channel, France) and Puget Sound (Washington, USA) were among the PUA-producing strains.

Key Words

Alga/herbivore interactions plankton pentafluorobenzylhydroxylamin copepod reproductive success 



We are grateful to all curators providing for algal collection of scientific usage. The authors acknowledge the financial funding of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (T.W., G.P.), the EGIDE-PROCOP exchange program and the French program “Biodeversité et Changement Global”. Prof W. Boland is acknowledged for helpful support and discussion during the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Wichard
    • 1
  • Serge A. Poulet
    • 2
  • Claudia Halsband-Lenk
    • 3
  • Aitor Albaina
    • 4
    • 6
  • Roger Harris
    • 4
  • Dongyan Liu
    • 5
  • Georg Pohnert
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany
  2. 2.Station Biologique de Roscoff, CNRS, FRE 2775 (Mer et Santé)RoscoffFrance
  3. 3.School of OceanographyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Plymouth Marine LabPlymouthEngland
  5. 5.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of WollongongNSWAustralia
  6. 6.AZTI, Herrera Kaia PortualdeaGuipúzcoaSpain

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