The DiaEdit project, Development of genetic tools for the establishment of routine genome editing in the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, is part of the initiative “Increasing the Potential of Marine Microeukaryotes as Experimental Model Systems through the Development of Genetic Tools” promoted by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
The recent development of genetic tools for targeted genome editing of diatoms constitutes a great opportunity for the characterization of molecular processes in these ecologically important algae. Genome editing technologies in diatoms, however, are still in their infancy regarding their routine application. Targeted mutagenesis in diatoms is challenging because of their mostly diploid state and the current lack of efficient homologous recombination.
In this project we propose to enlarge knowledge and tools for genome editing in the molecular model species Phaeodactylum tricornutum, an essential requirement to transfer these technologies to other diatoms. We plan to develop and/or validate three different approaches for genome editing: a TALEN-based approach, the utilization of CRISPR/Cas9 and a viral integrase system.

What we do

SZN is involved in Task 4 "Control of nuclease expression", aimed at the improvement of the specificity of action and expression of the nuclease used to modify the genome. This will be done mainly by identifying promoters that can allow fine control of the nuclease expression. NGS (next generation sequencing) will be used to assess the level of specificity of the chosen system by re-sequencing engineered clones.


SZN; Universitè Pierre et Marie Curie Paris, France; University of Konstanz, Germany; Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway; Tel Aviv University, Israel; Biological Systems and Biochemical Engineering Laboratory INSA/CNRS, France.

Research Area

Functional Genomics, Marine Biotechnology

Project Lifetime

October 2015 - September 2017

SZN Role


SZN Principal Investigator

Mariella Ferrante

Project Leader

Angela Falciatore, UPMC

Funding Institution

The Marine Microbiology Initiative funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (USA).

Dedicated website

Under construction

Personnel involved

Mariella Ferrante, Principal investigator
Monia Russo, Senior Post-doc

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