April 21, 2020  |  

Chlorella vulgaris genome assembly and annotation reveals the molecular basis for metabolic acclimation to high light conditions.

Chlorella vulgaris is a fast-growing fresh-water microalga cultivated at the industrial scale for applications ranging from food to biofuel production. To advance our understanding of its biology and to establish genetics tools for biotechnological manipulation, we sequenced the nuclear and organelle genomes of Chlorella vulgaris 211/11P by combining next generation sequencing and optical mapping of isolated DNA molecules. This hybrid approach allowed to assemble the nuclear genome in 14 pseudo-molecules with an N50 of 2.8 Mb and 98.9% of scaffolded genome. The integration of RNA-seq data obtained at two different irradiances of growth (high light-HL versus low light -LL) enabled to identify 10,724 nuclear genes, coding for 11,082 transcripts. Moreover 121 and 48 genes were respectively found in the chloroplast and mitochondrial genome. Functional annotation and expression analysis of nuclear, chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences revealed peculiar features of Chlorella vulgaris. Evidence of horizontal gene transfers from chloroplast to mitochondrial genome was observed. Furthermore, comparative transcriptomic analyses of LL vs HL provide insights into the molecular basis for metabolic rearrangement in HL vs. LL conditions leading to enhanced de novo fatty acid biosynthesis and triacylglycerol accumulation. The occurrence of a cytosolic fatty acid biosynthetic pathway can be predicted and its upregulation upon HL exposure is observed, consistent with increased lipid amount under HL. These data provide a rich genetic resource for future genome editing studies, and potential targets for biotechnological manipulation of Chlorella vulgaris or other microalgae species to improve biomass and lipid productivity.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Virus-host coexistence in phytoplankton through the genomic lens

Phytoplankton-virus interactions are major determinants of geochemical cycles in the oceans. Viruses are responsible for the redirection of carbon and nutrients away from larger organisms back towards microorganisms via the lysis of microalgae in a process coined the “viral shunt”. Virus-host interactions are generally expected to follow “boom and bust” dynamics, whereby a numerically dominant strain is lysed and replaced by a virus resistant strain. Here, we isolated a microalga and its infective nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV) concomitantly from the environment in the surface NW Mediterranean Sea, Ostreococcus mediterraneus, and show continuous growth in culture of both the microalga and the virus. Evolution experiments through single cell bottlenecks demonstrate that, in the absence of the virus, susceptible cells evolve from one ancestral resistant single cell, and vice-versa; that is that resistant cells evolve from one ancestral susceptible cell. This provides evidence that the observed sustained viral production is the consequence of a minority of virus-susceptible cells. The emergence of these cells is explained by low-level phase switching between virus-resistant and virus-susceptible phenotypes, akin to a bet hedging strategy. Whole genome sequencing and analysis of the ~14 Mb microalga and the ~200 kb virus points towards ancient speciation of the microalga within the Ostreococcus species complex and frequent gene exchanges between prasinoviruses infecting Ostreococcus species. Re-sequencing of one susceptible strain demonstrated that the phase switch involved a large 60 Kb deletion of one chromosome. This chromosome is an outlier chromosome compared to the streamlined, gene dense, GC-rich standard chromosomes, as it contains many repeats and few orthologous genes. While this chromosome has been described in three different genera, its size increments have been previously associated to antiviral immunity and resistance in another species from the same genus. Mathematical modelling of this mechanism predicts microalga-virus population dynamics consistent with the observation of continuous growth of both virus and microalga. Altogether, our results suggest a previously overlooked strategy in phytoplankton-virus interactions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Plantibacter flavus, Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens Endophytes Provide Host-Specific Growth Promotion of Arabidopsis thaliana, Basil, Lettuce, and Bok Choy Plants.

A collection of bacterial endophytes isolated from stem tissues of plants growing in soils highly contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were screened for plant growth-promoting capabilities. Twenty-seven endophytic isolates significantly improved the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in comparison to that of uninoculated control plants. The five most beneficial isolates, one strain each of Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens and two strains of Plantibacter flavus were further examined for growth promotion in Arabidopsis, lettuce, basil, and bok choy plants. Host-specific plant growth promotion was observed when plants were inoculated with the five bacterial strains. P. flavus strain M251 increased the total biomass and total root length of Arabidopsis plants by 4.7 and 5.8 times, respectively, over that of control plants and improved lettuce and basil root growth, while P. flavus strain M259 promoted Arabidopsis shoot and root growth, lettuce and basil root growth, and bok choy shoot growth. A genome comparison between P. flavus strains M251 and M259 showed that both genomes contain up to 70 actinobacterial putative plant-associated genes and genes involved in known plant-beneficial pathways, such as those for auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase production. This study provides evidence of direct plant growth promotion by Plantibacter flavusIMPORTANCE The discovery of new plant growth-promoting bacteria is necessary for the continued development of biofertilizers, which are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient alternatives to conventional chemical fertilizers. Biofertilizer effects on plant growth can be inconsistent due to the complexity of plant-microbe interactions, as the same bacteria can be beneficial to the growth of some plant species and neutral or detrimental to others. We examined a set of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants growing in a unique petroleum-contaminated environment to discover plant growth-promoting bacteria. We show that strains of Plantibacter flavus exhibit strain-specific plant growth-promoting effects on four different plant species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Biphasic cellular adaptations and ecological implications of Alteromonas macleodii degrading a mixture of algal polysaccharides.

Algal polysaccharides are an important bacterial nutrient source and central component of marine food webs. However, cellular and ecological aspects concerning the bacterial degradation of polysaccharide mixtures, as presumably abundant in natural habitats, are poorly understood. Here, we contextualize marine polysaccharide mixtures and their bacterial utilization in several ways using the model bacterium Alteromonas macleodii 83-1, which can degrade multiple algal polysaccharides and contributes to polysaccharide degradation in the oceans. Transcriptomic, proteomic and exometabolomic profiling revealed cellular adaptations of A. macleodii 83-1 when degrading a mix of laminarin, alginate and pectin. Strain 83-1 exhibited substrate prioritization driven by catabolite repression, with initial laminarin utilization followed by simultaneous alginate/pectin utilization. This biphasic phenotype coincided with pronounced shifts in gene expression, protein abundance and metabolite secretion, mainly involving CAZymes/polysaccharide utilization loci but also other functional traits. Distinct temporal changes in exometabolome composition, including the alginate/pectin-specific secretion of pyrroloquinoline quinone, suggest that substrate-dependent adaptations influence chemical interactions within the community. The ecological relevance of cellular adaptations was underlined by molecular evidence that common marine macroalgae, in particular Saccharina and Fucus, release mixtures of alginate and pectin-like rhamnogalacturonan. Moreover, CAZyme microdiversity and the genomic predisposition towards polysaccharide mixtures among Alteromonas spp. suggest polysaccharide-related traits as an ecophysiological factor, potentially relating to distinct ‘carbohydrate utilization types’ with different ecological strategies. Considering the substantial primary productivity of algae on global scales, these insights contribute to the understanding of bacteria-algae interactions and the remineralization of chemically diverse polysaccharide pools, a key step in marine carbon cycling.


April 21, 2020  |  

Physiological properties and genetic analysis related to exopolysaccharide (EPS) production in the fresh-water unicellular cyanobacterium Aphanothece sacrum (Suizenji Nori).

The clonal strains, phycoerythrin(PE)-rich- and PE-poor strains, of the unicellular, fresh water cyanobacterium Aphanothece sacrum (Suringar) Okada (Suizenji Nori, in Japanese) were isolated from traditional open-air aquafarms in Japan. A. sacrum appeared to be oligotrophic on the basis of its growth characteristics. The optimum temperature for growth was around 20°C. Maximum growth and biomass increase at 20°C was obtained under light intensities between 40 to 80 µmol m-2 s-1 (fluorescent lamps, 12 h light/12 h dark cycles) and between 40 to 120 µmol m-2 s-1 for PE-rich and PE-poor strains, respectively, of A. sacrum . Purified exopolysaccharide (EPS) of A. sacrum has a molecular weight of ca. 104 kDa with five major monosaccharides (glucose, xylose, rhamnose, galactose and mannose; =85 mol%). We also deciphered the whole genome sequence of the two strains of A. sacrum. The putative genes involved in the polymerization, chain length control, and export of EPS would contribute to understand the biosynthetic process of their extremely high molecular weight EPS. The putative genes encoding Wzx-Wzy-Wzz- and Wza-Wzb-Wzc were conserved in the A. sacrum strains FPU1 and FPU3. This result suggests that the Wzy-dependent pathway participates in the EPS production of A. sacrum.


April 21, 2020  |  

A siphonous macroalgal genome suggests convergent functions of homeobox genes in algae and land plants.

Genome evolution and development of unicellular, multinucleate macroalgae (siphonous algae) are poorly known, although various multicellular organisms have been studied extensively. To understand macroalgal developmental evolution, we assembled the ~26?Mb genome of a siphonous green alga, Caulerpa lentillifera, with high contiguity, containing 9,311 protein-coding genes. Molecular phylogeny using 107 nuclear genes indicates that the diversification of the class Ulvophyceae, including C. lentillifera, occurred before the split of the Chlorophyceae and Trebouxiophyceae. Compared with other green algae, the TALE superclass of homeobox genes, which expanded in land plants, shows a series of lineage-specific duplications in this siphonous macroalga. Plant hormone signalling components were also expanded in a lineage-specific manner. Expanded transport regulators, which show spatially different expression, suggest that the structural patterning strategy of a multinucleate cell depends on diversification of nuclear pore proteins. These results not only imply functional convergence of duplicated genes among green plants, but also provide insight into evolutionary roots of green plants. Based on the present results, we propose cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the structural differentiation in the siphonous alga. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Kazusa DNA Research Institute.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome and transcriptome sequencing of the astaxanthin-producing green microalga, Haematococcus pluvialis.

Haematococcus pluvialis is a freshwater species of Chlorophyta, family Haematococcaceae. It is well known for its capacity to synthesize high amounts of astaxanthin, which is a strong antioxidant that has been utilized in aquaculture and cosmetics. To improve astaxanthin yield and to establish genetic resources for H. pluvialis, we performed whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and annotation of this green microalga. A total of 83.1 Gb of raw reads were sequenced. After filtering the raw reads, we subsequently generated a draft assembly with a genome size of 669.0?Mb, a scaffold N50 of 288.6?kb, and predicted 18,545 genes. We also established a robust phylogenetic tree from 14 representative algae species. With additional transcriptome data, we revealed some novel potential genes that are involved in the synthesis, accumulation, and regulation of astaxanthin production. In addition, we generated an isoform-level reference transcriptome set of 18,483 transcripts with high confidence. Alternative splicing analysis demonstrated that intron retention is the most frequent mode. In summary, we report the first draft genome of H. pluvialis. These genomic resources along with transcriptomic data provide a solid foundation for the discovery of the genetic basis for theoretical and commercial astaxanthin enrichment.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome analysis and genetic transformation of a water surface-floating microalga Chlorococcum sp. FFG039.

Microalgal harvesting and dewatering are the main bottlenecks that need to be overcome to tap the potential of microalgae for production of valuable compounds. Water surface-floating microalgae form robust biofilms, float on the water surface along with gas bubbles entrapped under the biofilms, and have great potential to overcome these bottlenecks. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in the water surface-floating phenotype. In the present study, we analysed the genome sequence of a water surface-floating microalga Chlorococcum sp. FFG039, with a next generation sequencing technique to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. Comparative genomics study with Chlorococcum sp. FFG039 and other non-floating green microalgae revealed some of the unique gene families belonging to this floating microalga, which may be involved in biofilm formation. Furthermore, genetic transformation of this microalga was achieved with an electroporation method. The genome information and transformation techniques presented in this study will be useful to obtain molecular insights into the water surface-floating phenotype of Chlorococcum sp. FFG039.


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