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Unicellular eukaryotic algae accumulate triacylglycerides (TAGs), which are a potential renewable source of biodiesel. Wang et al. (p. 1856-1868) document that Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a reference organism in the green plant lineage, is stimulated to produce abundant TAG-filled lipid bodies (LBs) when nitrogen starved in acetate-containing medium. More importantly, the sta6 mutant, blocked in starch synthesis, makes twice as many LBs as the wild type during a 48-h period of N starvation, indicative of carbon skeleton partitioning between pathways generating two types of storage product. The authors present procedures for quantitating LB production and for obtaining highly purified LB preparations. This system is ripe for discovery of factors regulating LB accumulation in algae.
The large size and dynamic growth of hyphae in Neurospora crassa make them an excellent experimental material for investigation of organelles and cell structure. Using organellar markers tagged with green and red fluorescent proteins, Bowman et al. (p. 1845-1855) have observed the structure and distribution of nuclei, the endoplasmic reticulum, the vacuolar network, the Golgi bodies, and the mitochondria in living hyphae. The shapes of most of these organelles are different in the region near the hyphal tip than in older regions of a hypha. The cellular location of four proteins that transport calcium into organelles and across the plasma membrane was also determined.