Selenium in Algae

  • Hiroya AraieEmail author
  • Yoshihiro Shiraiwa
Part of the Developments in Applied Phycology book series (DAPH, volume 6)


Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element for many organisms in order to be required for the synthesis of selenoproteins although it is very toxic at high concentration. More than 40 selenoprotein families have been identified in diverse organisms, including bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. In photosynthetic microorganisms such as microalgae, many selenoproteins have also been identified by using bioinformatics approaches. Essentiality of Se requirement was experimentally proved in several algae, such as haptophyte algae, that possess selenoproteins. On the other hand, all of them that possess selenoproteins do not always show Se essential requirement in certain microalgae, such as a green algae. Se presents as four inorganic forms of selenide (−2), selenium (0), selenite (+2) and selenite (+4) and organic selenium-containing compounds. This Chapter focuses on the function of Se, membrane transport system, intracellular accumulation, metabolism to non-toxic organic compounds, and then the synthesis of selenoproteins involving a selenocysteine in which Se is replaced with sulfur. Especially, this Chapter introduces a unique property of E. huxleyi (coccolithophore, haptophyte) that possess two pathways for Se-compound production, namely both animal-like property to synthesize selenoproteins and land plant-like property to synthesize non-toxic organic compounds pathways. Algae can be considered to have evolved their properties for obtaining high viability by adjusting their Se-metabolism.


Function of selenium Haptophyte algae Micronutrients Nutritional essentiality of Selenium Selenium metabolism Selenium requirement Selenoprotein Selenium uptake Selenium-utilization strategy Selenium-requiring microalgae Selenocysteine/Selenoenzyme 21st proteinogenic amino acid 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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