Project Achievments



BIOVADIA is a joint exchange program aimed to study the biology and the biodiversity of blue diatoms and to valorise their specific pigments. The 1st blue diatom ever described, Haslea ostrearia, has long been known for its water-soluble blue pigment, marennine, responsible of the greening of oysters. Green oysters may have an added value, a phenomenon which is of economic importance in southern France. This program involves different partners in Europe and in North-America: Université du Mans (UM), Université de Nantes (UN), and Université de Bretagne Sud (UBS) in France; Cardiff University (CU) and University of Bristol (UB) in UK; Karadag Natural Reserve (KNR) in Ukraine; Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) and Mount Allison University (MAU) in Canada; and University of Rhode Island (URI) in the USA.


The program BIOVADIA consists in 7 work packages (WP1 to WP7), each aiming to answer one question regarding the blue diatoms (Haslea ostrearia-like diatoms) or their pigments (marennine-like pigments), and a 8th WP, for the transfer of knowledge between partner institutions, and the valorisation of the research activities. The main goal of WP1 is to collect and identify blue diatoms from different geographical areas, including hopefully new species. If several clones of a same strain/species can be derived from natural samplings, their life cycle and modalities of sexual reproduction will be studied (WP2. The description of new strains/species of blue diatoms using morphometrics and molecular markers is the main objective of WP3, the study of their ecophysiology is the one of WP4. Methods used to extract and purify the blue pigments will be improved, to increase our knowledge about the chemical nature of these peculiar biomolecules (objective of WP5). For WP6, the production of these pigments will be optimized and their valorisation explored. The study of their biological activities will be carried on (objective of WP7).


For most WPs, the objectives for the period have been reached or exceeded (see  ‘Dissemination of results’), but regarding the visits programmed on the 1st year schedule, some are postponed (e.g., UN to MAU or UQAR, UBS to UQAR, CU to UQAR). Different factors can explain the postponing of the exchange program.


The BIOVADIA program was submitted by March 24, 2010. The project referred to on-going experiments, that progressed regularly, and new research activities, programmed within the context of the exchanges and visits between partners. Two things mainly prevented us to achieve the programmed visits:

(1) the impossibility for Master 2 degree students to benefit from the mobility in support with a senior researcher, a fact that unfortunately, I did not pay attention to before the submission of BIOVADIA;

(2) changes that occurred since March 2010 in people involved in the consortium, or in their availability. For instance, since March 2010, some people got new responsibilities, others changed of laboratory, or experienced dramatic familial event. For all these reasons, the schedule will be modified, taken into account the future availability of partners, and the involvement of new people in the project, including PhD students or post-doc. Although there are always uncertainties about possible grants for PhD students and post-doc, all the visits on the initial schedule should be made by the end of the program.


Last but not least, a few visits were made in 2010-2011 (UQAR to UM, UN and UBS; UM to CU, UQAR, URI, MAU; KNR to UM), thus before the official start date of BIOVADIA. Although not similar to a kick-off meeting gathering all partners, these visits allowed to start the program efficiently, and to reach the objectives of the present period.




Scientific highlights and research achievements


By processing field samples, there were isolated 12 new clones of Haslea karadagensis (six of them in 2011, and six in 2012). In 2011, more than 10 new clones of Haslea ostrearia were derived from the samples taken at Atlantic coast. One new clone was established from England population. This year, more then 10 clones of Haslea "provincialis" have been isolated from the samples gathered at the Mediterranean seashore.



Sexual reproduction of the two new species, Haslea karadagensis and Haslea provincialis has been comprehensively investigated. Breeding compatibility of different populations of the same species (Haslea ostrearia) located from each other on the long distance (France, Sweden, USA) was confirmed. Breeding barriers between sympatric or closely related populations argued the existence of separate species (Haslea ostrearia and Haslea provincialis).


Breeding experiments with geographically distant populations of Haslea ostrearia gave a base for finding a peculiar mechanism of mitochondria inheritance in diatoms. It was shown that mitochondria transmission to the next generation was uniparental.



In connection with this WP, three manuscripts in various stages of preparation were worked on during this period. The first of them, “Mitochondrial inheritance…” was revised and upgraded according to the requests of the Editor of the journal Protist. This manuscript is now formally accepted. The second manuscript, “New species of Haslea, H. silbo…” advanced significantly and ITS-2 transcript models were provisionally developed. A last manuscript describing a blue diatom originating from the Mediterranean Sea (in the earliest stages of development), was discussed, along with the initial work on the entire group phylogeny, that will be incremented as the program will progress.


Physiological experiments were fulfilled to examine the influence of different light (red and infra-red) and different salinity on the fecundity of sexual reproduction in Haslea ostrearia and Haslea karadagensis.



Transfer of knowledge and Training activities (workshops…)


Dr. R. Gastineau (UM) worked in Dr. Kaczmarska’s laboratory (MAU) over the entire summer 2012. He learned several protocols developed and/or that are in use in this laboratory in molecular biology and microscopy. These included single-cell based PCR, ITS-2 secondary structure and scanning electron microscopy-based morphometric analysis.


F. Turcotte (UQAR) has gained the experience of culturing Haslea species and producing biomass of blue diatoms, from which marennine-like pigment will be extracted and purified.