Background: Picoeukaryotes represent an important, yet poorly characterized component of marine phytoplankton. The recent genome availability for two species of Ostreococcus and Micromonas has led to the emergence of picophytoplankton comparative genomics. Sequencing has revealed many unexpected features about genome structure and led to several hypotheses on Ostreococcus biology and physiology. Despite the accumulation of genomic data, little is known about gene expression in eukaryotic picophytoplankton. \ud Results: We have conducted a genome-wide analysis of gene expression in Ostreococcus tauri cells exposed to light/dark cycles (L/D). A Bayesian Fourier Clustering method was implemented to cluster rhythmic genes according to their expression waveform. In a single L/D condition nearly all expressed genes displayed rhythmic patterns of expression. Clusters of genes were associated with the main biological processes such as transcription in the nucleus and the organelles, photosynthesis, DNA replication and mitosis. \ud Conclusions: Light/Dark time-dependent transcription of the genes involved in the main steps leading to protein synthesis (transcription basic machinery, ribosome biogenesis, translation and aminoacid synthesis) was observed, to an unprecedented extent in eukaryotes, suggesting a major input of transcriptional regulations in Ostreococcus. We propose that the diurnal co-regulation of genes involved in photoprotection, defence against oxidative stress and DNA repair might be an efficient mechanism, which protects cells against photo-damage thereby, contributing to the ability of O. tauri to grow under a wide range of light intensities
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