go to http://www.aocs.org! Algaetech International — The Future is NowComplete Algae Monitoring System Visit  cricatalyst.com!Nexus — Leaders in Greenhouse Systems Integration

Research

Genome suggests why red alga didn’t come ashore

April 2, 2013
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

In the foreground, the red alga, Chondrus crispus  © Jonas Collén

In the foreground, the red alga, Chondrus crispus © Jonas Collén

The first red alga genome has recently been sequenced by an international team, coordinated in France by Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University (UPMC) at the Station Biologique de Roscoff, in Brittany. The project notably involved researchers from the French National Sequencing Centre: CEA-Genoscope, the universities of Lille and Rennes, and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle.

The genome of Chondrus crispus, also known by the Breton name ‘pioka,’ turns out to be small and compact for a multicellular organism. It has fewer genes than several other species of unicellular algae, which raises a number of questions about the evolution of red algae. This low number of genes could explain why these organisms never colonized dry land, unlike their green counterparts – from which all terrestrial plants are descended.

These findings open up new perspectives on the natural history of algae and of terrestrial plants. They were published online in the journal PNAS on March 11, 2013.

Chondrus crispus is a multicellular red alga of about 20 cm in length. It is very common on the rocky coasts of the North Atlantic where it plays an essential role as a primary producer in these ecosystems. Certain red algae are now used in the agri-food industry for the thickening properties of the carrageenans from their cell walls. These sulfated polysaccharides correspond to the food additive E-407, which goes into many desserts and other dishes. Beyond industrial applications, this first sequencing of a red alga genome sheds new light on plant evolution as a whole.

A Chondrus crispus red alga ©Jonas Collén

A Chondrus crispus red alga ©Jonas Collén

The Chondrus genome had some surprises for the researchers. With only 9,606 genes and 105 million base pairs, it is very small for a multicellular organism. By comparison, the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has 14,516 genes, the multicellular terrestrial plant Arabadopsis thaliana has 27,416. The Chondrus genome is also very compact, with each function generally corresponding to a single gene. Gene families are small, and genes closely spaced.

To explain these surprising characteristics, the researchers proposed the hypothesis that, more than a billion years ago, red algae experienced a massive loss of genetic material as a result of extreme environmental conditions. This dramatic event in their evolutionary history would have had many consequences. One result could be the loss of flagellar genes, still present in most other organisms and responsible for the motility of certain cells (such as the gametes during sexual reproduction in most organisms, including humans).

Had this massive gene loss never occurred, red algae might have extensively colonized the terrestrial environment, in the same way as green algae, which are the ancestors of all land plants. Yet this event – a real evolutionary bottleneck –has denied red algae the plasticity and genetic potential necessary to adapt to life on land.

The sequence of the Chondrus genome opens the archives of more than 1,500 million years of evolutionary history of terrestrial and marine plants. It provides a new basis for the study of red algae biology and is the first step in a program aiming to improve our understanding of the origins of life on Earth, the adaptation of red algae to their environment and the biosynthesis pathways of biomolecules of interest, such as carrageenans. The scientists of the group are also hoping to discover new enzymes of interest for marine biotechnology.

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
AIMPLAS, a Center for Innovation and Technology in Valencia, Spain, and Biofuel Systems, a wholly Spanish-owned firm that has developed a method of breeding plankton and ...
Alltech, the animal feed giant headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, is continuing to expand its 15,000 ton/yr. algal DHA plant in Winchester, KY, one of only two plants ...
In the 1970s, following the regrouping of small farms into large production centers, the Soviet Union was experiencing serious problems with epidemics of cancer and low p...
Peter Berlin reports for France24.com that French adventurer Raphaël Dinelli plans to fly across the Atlantic in 2015 in a plane powered only by algae and sunshine. Dinel...
Natural Algae Astaxanthin manufacturers Fuji Chemical Industry Co Ltd., Algatechnologies Ltd. and Cyanotech Corporation have announced that they will form the “Natural Al...
OriginOil Inc. has announced a collaboration with Israel’s AquaGreen Fish Farms, Ltd. to further streamline their zero-discharge aquaculture systems for the production of...
Solazyme has announced that commercial operations have begun at both Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)’s Clinton, Iowa facility, and the downstream companion facility ...
Natural carotenoid specialists Piveg Inc., with production facilities based in Celaya, Central Mexico, has announced immediate availability of natural astaxanthin materia...
University of Adelaide researchers are using nanotechnology and the fossils of diatoms to develop a novel chemical-free and resistance-free way of protecting stored grain...
Scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have demonstrated that just two of six iron-sulfur-containing ferredoxins in a represent...
The University of Greenwich is leading a €10m international project, called the ‘D-Factory,’ to build a biorefinery to develop the microalga Dunaliella as a sustainable r...
Biomass abounds on Earth, as forests, fields, sewage and seaweed. But only a small fraction, mostly human or agricultural waste, can be harvested without posing environme...
Algae.Tec Ltd has received its first purchase order from Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited (RIIHL), in connection with the arrangements announced on Ja...
In a global scenario where increasing attention is being directed towards issues of sustainability and limited food supplies, algal sources offer immense scope for the ra...
Solazyme, Inc. has announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. “2013 was a year of great progress for Solazyme as we readied our first...
Valensa International and Contract Biotics have announced that Contract Biotics has started construction of an additional six acres of algae production units at the compa...
Technical standards define critical terms and metrics to add wisdom for the algae industry. Agreement among science and business leaders represents possibly the most diff...
One of 12 winners of the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the Ooho algae balloon was created by three London-based designers to contribute a solution to the rising number of plas...
Algae is being discussed at the heart of EXPO Milano 2015, the international event that has existed since 1851, spawning world shaping themes and icons, such as the Eiffe...
Libourne, France-based Fermentalg, an industrial biotechnology company that specializes in the production of oils and proteins derived from microalgae, has completed a su...
As the number of photobioreactors in an algae growing operation increases, there is a need for both autonomous control and monitoring of individual PBRs, as well as centr...