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November 1, 2018

Genomic characterization reveals significant divergence within Chlorella sorokiniana (Chlorellales, Trebouxiophyceae)

Selection of highly productive algal strains is crucial for establishing economically viable biomass and biopro- duct cultivation systems. Characterization of algal genomes, including understanding strain-specific differences in genome content and architecture is a critical step in this process. Using genomic analyses, we demonstrate significant differences between three strains of Chlorella sorokiniana (strain 1228, UTEX 1230, and DOE1412). We found that unique, strain-specific genes comprise a substantial proportion of each genome, and genomic regions with> 80% local nucleotide identity constitute

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November 1, 2018

Genomic analysis of Picochlorum species reveals how microalgae may adapt to variable environments.

Understanding how microalgae adapt to rapidly changing environments is not only important to science but can help clarify the potential impact of climate change on the biology of primary producers. We sequenced and analyzed the nuclear genome of multiple Picochlorum isolates (Chlorophyta) to elucidate strategies of environmental adaptation. It was previously found that coordinated gene regulation is involved in adaptation to salinity stress, and here we show that gene gain and loss also play key roles in adaptation. We determined the extent of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from prokaryotes and their role in the origin of novel functions in the…

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October 1, 2018

Haematococcus lacustris: the makings of a giant-sized chloroplast genome.

Recent work on the chlamydomonadalean green alga Haematococcus lacustris uncovered the largest plastid genome on record: a whopping 1.35 Mb with >90 % non-coding DNA. A 500-word description of this genome was published in the journal Genome Announcements. But such a short report for such a large genome leaves many unanswered questions. For instance, the H. lacustris plastome was found to encode only 12 tRNAs, less than half that of a typical plastome, it appears to have a non-standard genetic code, and is one of only a few known plastid DNAs (ptDNAs), out of thousands of available sequences, not biased…

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August 1, 2018

Analysis of the draft genome of the red seaweed Gracilariopsis chorda provides insights into genome size evolution in Rhodophyta.

Red algae (Rhodophyta) underwent two phases of large-scale genome reduction during their early evolution. The red seaweeds did not attain genome sizes or gene inventories typical of other multicellular eukaryotes. We generated a high-quality 92.1 Mb draft genome assembly from the red seaweed Gracilariopsis chorda, including methylation and small (s)RNA data. We analyzed these and other Archaeplastida genomes to address three questions: 1) What is the role of repeats and transposable elements (TEs) in explaining Rhodophyta genome size variation, 2) what is the history of genome duplication and gene family expansion/reduction in these taxa, and 3) is there evidence for…

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July 1, 2018

Mapping and characterizing N6-methyladenine in eukaryotic genomes using single-molecule real-time sequencing.

N6-Methyladenine (m6dA) has been discovered as a novel form of DNA methylation prevalent in eukaryotes; however, methods for high-resolution mapping of m6dA events are still lacking. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing has enabled the detection of m6dA events at single-nucleotide resolution in prokaryotic genomes, but its application to detecting m6dA in eukaryotic genomes has not been rigorously examined. Herein, we identified unique characteristics of eukaryotic m6dA methylomes that fundamentally differ from those of prokaryotes. Based on these differences, we describe the first approach for mapping m6dA events using SMRT sequencing specifically designed for the study of eukaryotic genomes and provide appropriate…

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July 1, 2018

Unrestrained markerless trait stacking in Nannochloropsis gaditana through combined genome editing and marker recycling technologies.

Robust molecular tool kits in model and industrial microalgae are key to efficient targeted manipulation of endogenous and foreign genes in the nuclear genome for basic research and, as importantly, for the development of algal strains to produce renewable products such as biofuels. While Cas9-mediated gene knockout has been demonstrated in a small number of algal species with varying efficiency, the ability to stack traits or generate knockout mutations in two or more loci are often severely limited by selectable agent availability. This poses a critical hurdle in developing production strains, which require stacking of multiple traits, or in probing…

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April 15, 2018

The genome of Ectocarpus subulatus highlights unique mechanisms for stress tolerance in brown algae

Brown algae are multicellular photosynthetic organisms belonging to the stramenopile lineage. They are successful colonizers of marine rocky shores world-wide. The genus Ectocarpus, and especially strain Ec32, has been established as a genetic and genomic model for brown algae. A related species, Ectocarpus subulatus Kuetzing, is characterized by its high tolerance of abiotic stress. Here we present the genome and metabolic network of a haploid male strain of E. subulatus, establishing it as a comparative model to study the genomic bases of stress tolerance in Ectocarpus. Our analyses indicate that E. subulatus has separated from Ectocarpus sp. Ec32 via allopatric…

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March 1, 2018

Next-generation sequencing of Haematococcus lacustris reveals an extremely large 1.35-megabase chloroplast genome.

Haematococcus lacustris is an industrially relevant microalga that is used for the production of the carotenoid astaxanthin. Here, we report the use of PacBio long-read sequencing to assemble the chloroplast genome of H. lacustris strain UTEX:2505. At 1.35?Mb, this is the largest assembled chloroplast of any plant or alga known to date. Copyright © 2018 Bauman et al.

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March 1, 2018

Anisogamy evolved with a reduced sex-determining region in volvocine green algae

Male and female gametes differing in size—anisogamy—emerged independently from isogamous ancestors in various eukaryotic lineages, although genetic bases of this emergence are still unknown. Volvocine green algae are a model lineage for investigating the transition from isogamy to anisogamy. Here we focus on two closely related volvocine genera that bracket this transition—isogamous Yamagishiella and anisogamous Eudorina. We generated de novo nuclear genome assemblies of both sexes of Yamagishiella and Eudorina to identify the dimorphic sex-determining chromosomal region or mating-type locus (MT) from each. In contrast to the large (>1?Mb) and complex MT of oogamous Volvox, Yamagishiella and Eudorina MT are…

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December 1, 2017

The plastid genome in Cladophorales green algae is encoded by hairpin chromosomes.

Virtually all plastid (chloroplast) genomes are circular double-stranded DNA molecules, typically between 100 and 200 kb in size and encoding circa 80-250 genes. Exceptions to this universal plastid genome architecture are very few and include the dinoflagellates, where genes are located on DNA minicircles. Here we report on the highly deviant chloroplast genome of Cladophorales green algae, which is entirely fragmented into hairpin chromosomes. Short- and long-read high-throughput sequencing of DNA and RNA demonstrated that the chloroplast genes of Boodlea composita are encoded on 1- to 7-kb DNA contigs with an exceptionally high GC content, each containing a long inverted…

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October 26, 2017

Draft nuclear genome sequence of the halophilic and beta-carotene-accumulating green alga Dunaliella salina strain CCAP19/18.

The halotolerant alga Dunaliella salina is a model for stress tolerance and is used commercially for production of beta-carotene (=pro-vitamin A). The presented draft genome of the genuine strain CCAP19/18 will allow investigations into metabolic processes involved in regulation of stress responses, including carotenogenesis and adaptations to life in high-salinity environments. Copyright © 2017 Polle et al.

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August 1, 2017

Insights into the red algae and eukaryotic evolution from the genome of Porphyra umbilicalis (Bangiophyceae, Rhodophyta).

Porphyra umbilicalis (laver) belongs to an ancient group of red algae (Bangiophyceae), is harvested for human food, and thrives in the harsh conditions of the upper intertidal zone. Here we present the 87.7-Mbp haploid Porphyra genome (65.8% G + C content, 13,125 gene loci) and elucidate traits that inform our understanding of the biology of red algae as one of the few multicellular eukaryotic lineages. Novel features of the Porphyra genome shared by other red algae relate to the cytoskeleton, calcium signaling, the cell cycle, and stress-tolerance mechanisms including photoprotection. Cytoskeletal motor proteins in Porphyra are restricted to a small…

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May 8, 2017

Chromosome-level genome assembly and transcriptome of the green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis illuminates astaxanthin production.

Microalgae have potential to help meet energy and food demands without exacerbating environmental problems. There is interest in the unicellular green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis, because it produces lipids for biofuels and a highly valuable carotenoid nutraceutical, astaxanthin. To advance understanding of its biology and facilitate commercial development, we present a C. zofingiensis chromosome-level nuclear genome, organelle genomes, and transcriptome from diverse growth conditions. The assembly, derived from a combination of short- and long-read sequencing in conjunction with optical mapping, revealed a compact genome of ~58 Mbp distributed over 19 chromosomes containing 15,274 predicted protein-coding genes. The genome has uniform gene…

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