The democratization of sequencing technologies fostered a leap in our knowledge of the diversity of marine phytoplanktonic microalgae, revealing many previously unknown species and lineages. The evolutionary history of the diversification of microalgae can be inferred from the analysis of their genome sequences. However, the link between the DNA sequence and the associated phenotype is notoriously difficult to assess, all the more so for marine phytoplanktonic microalgae for which the lab culture and, thus, biological experimentation is very tedious. Here, we explore the potential of a high-throughput untargeted metabolomic approach to explore the phenotypic–genotypic gap in 12 marine microalgae encompassing 1.2 billion years of evolution. We identified species- and lineage-specific metabolites. We also provide evidence of a very good correlation between the molecular divergence, inferred from the DNA sequences, and the metabolomic divergence, inferred from the complete metabolomic profiles. These results provide novel insights into the potential of chemotaxonomy in marine phytoplankton and support the hypothesis of a metabolomic clock, suggesting that DNA and metabolomic profiles co-evolve.
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