• diatom;
  • Ditylum brightwellii;
  • Hsp20;
  • gene expression;
  • environmental stress


Diatoms are sensitive indicators of water quality, and hence used for environmental hazard assessments; however, their toxicogenomic studies have been insufficiently attempted. In the present study, we determined the cDNA sequence of heat shock protein 20 (Hsp20) gene from the diatom Ditylum brightwellii, and examined the transcriptional responses of the gene after exposing it to environmental stressors such as thermal shock, metals, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The open reading frame (ORF) of DbHsp20 was 531 bp long, encoding 177 amino acid residues (19.49 kDa) with a conserved C-terminal and α-crystallin domain. The genomic region of DbHsp20 did not contain introns. Phylogeny of eukaryotic Hsp20s showed D. brightwellii was closely related to other diatoms. With regard to the gene expressional profile, real-time PCR results showed that the gene was significantly upregulated (P < 0.001) under thermal stress, with the highest change of 3.2-fold. Metals' (copper and nickel) treatments showed that it was induced after a certain point of treated concentration. On the contrary, EDCs did not display noticeable change on the expression of DbHsp20. These results suggest that the diatom Hsp20 basically responds to thermal stress, but may differentially respond to toxic substances such as metals and organic compounds such as EDCs. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 1379–1389, 2014.