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1.  Estimates of nuclear DNA content in red algal lineages 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls005.
This paper compiles and discusses all currently available nuclear genome size data for red algae in relation to their most recent taxonomic classification.
Background and aims
The red algae are an evolutionarily ancient group of predominantly marine organisms with an estimated 6000 species. Consensus higher-level molecular phylogenies support a basal split between the unicellular Cyanidiophytina and morphologically diverse Rhodophytina, the later subphylum containing most red algal species. The Rhodophytina is divided into six classes, of which five represent early diverging lineages of generally uninucleate species, whose evolutionary relationships are poorly resolved. The remaining species compose the large (27 currently recognized orders), morphologically diverse and typically multinucleate Florideophyceae. Nuclear DNA content estimates have been published for <1 % of the described red algae. The present investigation summarizes the state of our knowledge and expands our coverage of DNA content information from 196 isolates of red algae.
The DNA-localizing fluorochrome DAPI (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) and RBC (chicken erythrocytes) standards were used to estimate 2C values with static microspectrophotometry.
Principal results
Nuclear DNA contents are reported for 196 isolates of red algae, almost doubling the number of estimates available for these organisms. Present results also confirm the reported DNA content range of 0.1–2.8 pg, with species of Ceramiales, Nemaliales and Palmariales containing apparently polyploid genomes with 2C = 2.8, 2.3 and 2.8 pg, respectively.
Early diverging red algal lineages are characterized by relatively small 2C DNA contents while a wide range of 2C values is found within the derived Florideophyceae. An overall correlation between phylogenetic placement and 2C DNA content is not apparent; however, genome size data are available for only a small portion of red algae. Current data do support polyploidy and aneuploidy as pervasive features of red algal genome evolution.
PMCID: PMC3303098  PMID: 22479676
2.  Nuclear DNA Content Estimates in Green Algal Lineages: Chlorophyta and Streptophyta 
Annals of Botany  2007;99(4):677-701.
Background and Aims
Consensus higher-level molecular phylogenies present a compelling case that an ancient divergence separates eukaryotic green algae into two major monophyletic lineages, Chlorophyta and Streptophyta, and a residuum of green algae, which have been referred to prasinophytes or micromonadophytes. Nuclear DNA content estimates have been published for less than 1% of the described green algal members of Chlorophyta, which includes multicellular green marine algae and freshwater flagellates (e.g. Chlamydomonas and Volvox). The present investigation summarizes the state of our knowledge and adds substantially to our database of C-values, especially for the streptophyte charophycean lineage which is the sister group of the land plants. A recent list of 2C nuclear DNA contents for isolates and species of green algae is expanded by 72 to 157.
The DNA-localizing fluorochrome DAPI (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) and red blood cell (chicken erythrocytes) standard were used to estimate 2C values with static microspectrophotometry.
Key Results
In Chlorophyta, including Chlorophyceae, Prasinophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Ulvophyceae, 2C DNA estimates range from 0·01 to 5·8 pg. Nuclear DNA content variation trends are noted and discussed for specific problematic taxon pairs, including Ulotrichales–Ulvales, and Cladophorales–Siphonocladales. For Streptophyta, 2C nuclear DNA contents range from 0·2 to 6·4 pg, excluding the highly polyploid Charales and Desmidiales, which have genome sizes of up to 14·8 and 46·8 pg, respectively. Nuclear DNA content data for Streptophyta superimposed on a contemporary molecular phylogeny indicate that early diverging lineages, including some members of Chlorokybales, Coleochaetales and Klebsormidiales, have genomes as small as 0·1–0·5 pg. It is proposed that the streptophyte ancestral nuclear genome common to both the charophyte and the embryophyte lineages can be characterized as 1C = 0·2 pg and 1n = 6.
These data will help pre-screen candidate species for the on-going construction of bacterial artificial chromosome nuclear genome libraries for land plant ancestors. Data for the prasinophyte Mesostigma are of particular interest as this alga reportedly most closely resembles the ‘ancestral green flagellate’. Both mechanistic and ecological processes are discussed that could have produced the observed C-value increase of >100-fold in the charophyte green algae whereas the ancestral genome was conserved in the embryophytes.
PMCID: PMC2802934  PMID: 17272304
‘Ancestral green flagellate’ (AGF); C-value enigma; chlorophyta; DNA C-values; nuclear genome size; Streptophyta
3.  Nuclear DNA Content Estimates in Multicellular Green, Red and Brown Algae: Phylogenetic Considerations 
Annals of Botany  2005;95(1):7-44.
• Background and Aims Multicellular eukaryotic algae are phylogenetically disparate. Nuclear DNA content estimates have been published for fewer than 1 % of the described species of Chlorophyta, Phaeophyta and Rhodophyta. The present investigation aims to summarize the state of our knowledge and to add substantially to our database of C-values for theses algae.
• Methods The DNA-localizing fluorochrome DAPI (4′, 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) and RBC (chicken erythrocyte) standard were used to estimate 2C values with static microspectrophotometry.
• Key Results 2C DNA contents for 85 species of Chlorophyta range from 0·2–6·1 pg, excluding the highly polyploidy Charales and Desmidiales with DNA contents of up to 39·2 and 20·7 pg, respectively. 2C DNA contents for 111 species of Rhodophyta range from 0·1–2·8 pg, and for 44 species of Phaeophyta range from 0·2–1·8 pg.
• Conclusions New availability of consensus higher-level molecular phylogenies provides a framework for viewing C-value data in a phylogenetic context. Both DNA content ranges and mean values are greater in taxa considered to be basal. It is proposed that the basal, ancestral genome in each algal group was quite small. Both mechanistic and ecological processes are discussed that could have produced the observed C-value ranges.
PMCID: PMC4246707  PMID: 15596456
C-value enigma; Chlorophyta; DNA C-values; eukaryotic algae; nuclear genome size; Phaeophyta; Rhodophyta
4.  Novel species interactions: American black bears respond to Pacific herring spawn 
BMC Ecology  2015;15:14.
In addition to the decline and extinction of the world’s species, the decline and eventual loss of species interactions is one of the major consequences of the biodiversity crisis. On the Pacific coast of North America, diminished runs of salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) drive numerous marine–terrestrial interactions, many of which have been intensively studied, but marine–terrestrial interactions driven by other species remain relatively unknown. Bears (Ursus spp.) are major vectors of salmon into terrestrial ecosystems, but their participation in other cross-ecosystem interactions is similarly poorly described. Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), a migratory forage fish in coastal marine ecosystems of the North Pacific Ocean and the dominant forage fish in British Columbia (BC), spawn in nearshore subtidal and intertidal zones. Spawn resources (eggs, milt, and spawning adults) at these events are available to coastal predators and scavengers, including terrestrial species. In this study, we investigated the interaction between American black bears (Ursus americanus) and Pacific herring at spawn events in Quatsino Sound, BC, Canada.
Using remote cameras to monitor bear activity (1,467 camera days, 29 sites, years 2010–2012) in supratidal and intertidal zones and a machine learning approach, we determined that the quantity of Pacific herring eggs in supratidal and intertidal zones was a leading predictor of black bear activity, with bears positively responding to increasing herring egg masses. Other important predictors included day of the year and Talitrid amphipod (Traskorchestia spp.) mass. A complementary analysis of black bear scats indicated that Pacific herring egg mass was the highest ranked predictor of egg consumption by bears. Pacific herring eggs constituted a substantial yet variable component of the early springtime diet of black bears in Quatsino Sound (frequency of occurrence 0–34%; estimated dietary content 0–63%). Other major dietary items included graminoids (grasses and sedges), Phaeophyta (brown algae), Zosteraceae (seagrasses), and Talitrid amphipods.
This research represents the first scientific evidence of a cross-ecosystem interaction between Pacific herring and American black bears. Our findings also expand knowledge of the ecological roles of both species. Combined, evidence of anthropogenic constraints on both black bears and Pacific herring suggests that bear-herring interactions were potentially stronger and more widespread in the past.
PMCID: PMC4445564  PMID: 26013706
Species interactions; Clupea pallasii; Ursus americanus; Intertidal zone; Forage fish; Pacific Ocean; Spawn
5.  The Halogenated Metabolism of Brown Algae (Phaeophyta), Its Biological Importance and Its Environmental Significance 
Marine Drugs  2010;8(4):988-1010.
Brown algae represent a major component of littoral and sublittoral zones in temperate and subtropical ecosystems. An essential adaptive feature of this independent eukaryotic lineage is the ability to couple oxidative reactions resulting from exposure to sunlight and air with the halogenations of various substrates, thereby addressing various biotic and abiotic stresses i.e., defense against predators, tissue repair, holdfast adhesion, and protection against reactive species generated by oxidative processes. Whereas marine organisms mainly make use of bromine to increase the biological activity of secondary metabolites, some orders of brown algae such as Laminariales have also developed a striking capability to accumulate and to use iodine in physiological adaptations to stress. We review selected aspects of the halogenated metabolism of macrophytic brown algae in the light of the most recent results, which point toward novel functions for iodide accumulation in kelps and the importance of bromination in cell wall modifications and adhesion properties of brown algal propagules. The importance of halogen speciation processes ranges from microbiology to biogeochemistry, through enzymology, cellular biology and ecotoxicology.
PMCID: PMC2866472  PMID: 20479964
halogen speciation; brown algae; defense metabolites; haloperoxidases; biogeochemistry
6.  Choline and Inositol Distribution in Algae and Fungi1 
Applied Microbiology  1968;16(4):620-623.
Inositol and choline were present in varying amounts among the species of Rhodophyta, Phaeophyta, Chlorophyta, and Euglenophyta examined. However, in the two members of the order Fucales (division Phaeophyta) examined, no detectable amounts of choline were found. In contrast, the species of Cyanophyta examined contained no detectable amounts of either choline or inositol. All species of the fungal classes Phycomyceteae, Ascomyceteae, and Basidiomyceteae collected contained both inositol and choline in varying amounts. The red, brown, and blue-green algae usually contained much less inositol and choline than do plant and animals sources, but the fungi and the algae Chlorella and Euglena contained amounts comparable to those present in plant sources.
PMCID: PMC547481  PMID: 5647522
7.  The complete chloroplast genome sequence of the chlorophycean green alga Scenedesmus obliquus reveals a compact gene organization and a biased distribution of genes on the two DNA strands 
The phylum Chlorophyta contains the majority of the green algae and is divided into four classes. While the basal position of the Prasinophyceae is well established, the divergence order of the Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Chlorophyceae (UTC) remains uncertain. The five complete chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequences currently available for representatives of these classes display considerable variability in overall structure, gene content, gene density, intron content and gene order. Among these genomes, that of the chlorophycean green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has retained the least ancestral features. The two single-copy regions, which are separated from one another by the large inverted repeat (IR), have similar sizes, rather than unequal sizes, and differ radically in both gene contents and gene organizations relative to the single-copy regions of prasinophyte and ulvophyte cpDNAs. To gain insights into the various changes that underwent the chloroplast genome during the evolution of chlorophycean green algae, we have sequenced the cpDNA of Scenedesmus obliquus, a member of a distinct chlorophycean lineage.
The 161,452 bp IR-containing genome of Scenedesmus features single-copy regions of similar sizes, encodes 96 genes, i.e. only two additional genes (infA and rpl12) relative to its Chlamydomonas homologue and contains seven group I and two group II introns. It is clearly more compact than the four UTC algal cpDNAs that have been examined so far, displays the lowest proportion of short repeats among these algae and shows a stronger bias in clustering of genes on the same DNA strand compared to Chlamydomonas cpDNA. Like the latter genome, Scenedesmus cpDNA displays only a few ancestral gene clusters. The two chlorophycean genomes share 11 gene clusters that are not found in previously sequenced trebouxiophyte and ulvophyte cpDNAs as well as a few genes that have an unusual structure; however, their single-copy regions differ considerably in gene content.
Our results underscore the remarkable plasticity of the chlorophycean chloroplast genome. Owing to this plasticity, only a sketchy portrait could be drawn for the chloroplast genome of the last common ancestor of Scenedesmus and Chlamydomonas.
PMCID: PMC1513399  PMID: 16638149
8.  Plastid genomes of two brown algae, Ectocarpus siliculosus and Fucus vesiculosus: further insights on the evolution of red-algal derived plastids 
Heterokont algae, together with cryptophytes, haptophytes and some alveolates, possess red-algal derived plastids. The chromalveolate hypothesis proposes that the red-algal derived plastids of all four groups have a monophyletic origin resulting from a single secondary endosymbiotic event. However, due to incongruence between nuclear and plastid phylogenies, this controversial hypothesis remains under debate. Large-scale genomic analyses have shown to be a powerful tool for phylogenetic reconstruction but insufficient sequence data have been available for red-algal derived plastid genomes.
The chloroplast genomes of two brown algae, Ectocarpus siliculosus and Fucus vesiculosus, have been fully sequenced. These species represent two distinct orders of the Phaeophyceae, which is a major group within the heterokont lineage. The sizes of the circular plastid genomes are 139,954 and 124,986 base pairs, respectively, the size difference being due principally to the presence of longer inverted repeat and intergenic regions in E. siliculosus. Gene contents of the two plastids are similar with 139-148 protein-coding genes, 28-31 tRNA genes, and 3 ribosomal RNA genes. The two genomes also exhibit very similar rearrangements compared to other sequenced plastid genomes. The tRNA-Leu gene of E. siliculosus lacks an intron, in contrast to the F. vesiculosus and other heterokont plastid homologues, suggesting its recent loss in the Ectocarpales. Most of the brown algal plastid genes are shared with other red-algal derived plastid genomes, but a few are absent from raphidophyte or diatom plastid genomes. One of these regions is most similar to an apicomplexan nuclear sequence. The phylogenetic relationship between heterokonts, cryptophytes and haptophytes (collectively referred to as chromists) plastids was investigated using several datasets of concatenated proteins from two cyanobacterial genomes and 18 plastid genomes, including most of the available red algal and chromist plastid genomes.
The phylogenetic studies using concatenated plastid proteins still do not resolve the question of the monophyly of all chromist plastids. However, these results support both the monophyly of heterokont plastids and that of cryptophyte and haptophyte plastids, in agreement with nuclear phylogenies.
PMCID: PMC2765969  PMID: 19835607
9.  The genome of the brown alga Ectocarpus siliculosus contains a series of viral DNA pieces, suggesting an ancient association with large dsDNA viruses 
Ectocarpus siliculosus virus-1 (EsV-1) is a lysogenic dsDNA virus belonging to the super family of nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV) that infect Ectocarpus siliculosus, a marine filamentous brown alga. Previous studies indicated that the viral genome is integrated into the host DNA. In order to find the integration sites of the viral genome, a genomic library from EsV-1-infected algae was screened using labelled EsV-1 DNA. Several fragments were isolated and some of them were sequenced and analyzed in detail.
Analysis revealed that the algal genome is split by a copy of viral sequences that have a high identity to EsV-1 DNA sequences. These fragments are interspersed with DNA repeats, pseudogenes and genes coding for products involved in DNA replication, integration and transposition. Some of these gene products are not encoded by EsV-1 but are present in the genome of other members of the NCLDV family. Further analysis suggests that the Ectocarpus algal genome contains traces of the integration of a large dsDNA viral genome; this genome could be the ancestor of the extant NCLDV genomes. Furthermore, several lines of evidence indicate that the EsV-1 genome might have originated in these viral DNA pieces, implying the existence of a complex integration and recombination system. A protein similar to a new class of tyrosine recombinases might be a key enzyme of this system.
Our results support the hypothesis that some dsDNA viruses are monophyletic and evolved principally through genome reduction. Moreover, we hypothesize that phaeoviruses have probably developed an original replication system.
PMCID: PMC2373305  PMID: 18405387
10.  Metabolic network reconstruction of Chlamydomonas offers insight into light-driven algal metabolism 
A comprehensive genome-scale metabolic network of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, including a detailed account of light-driven metabolism, is reconstructed and validated. The model provides a new resource for research of C. reinhardtii metabolism and in algal biotechnology.
The genome-scale metabolic network of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (iRC1080) was reconstructed, accounting for >32% of the estimated metabolic genes encoded in the genome, and including extensive details of lipid metabolic pathways.This is the first metabolic network to explicitly account for stoichiometry and wavelengths of metabolic photon usage, providing a new resource for research of C. reinhardtii metabolism and developments in algal biotechnology.Metabolic functional annotation and the largest transcript verification of a metabolic network to date was performed, at least partially verifying >90% of the transcripts accounted for in iRC1080. Analysis of the network supports hypotheses concerning the evolution of latent lipid pathways in C. reinhardtii, including very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid and ceramide synthesis pathways.A novel approach for modeling light-driven metabolism was developed that accounts for both light source intensity and spectral quality of emitted light. The constructs resulting from this approach, termed prism reactions, were shown to significantly improve the accuracy of model predictions, and their use was demonstrated for evaluation of light source efficiency and design.
Algae have garnered significant interest in recent years, especially for their potential application in biofuel production. The hallmark, model eukaryotic microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has been widely used to study photosynthesis, cell motility and phototaxis, cell wall biogenesis, and other fundamental cellular processes (Harris, 2001). Characterizing algal metabolism is key to engineering production strains and understanding photobiological phenomena. Based on extensive literature on C. reinhardtii metabolism, its genome sequence (Merchant et al, 2007), and gene functional annotation, we have reconstructed and experimentally validated the genome-scale metabolic network for this alga, iRC1080, the first network to account for detailed photon absorption permitting growth simulations under different light sources. iRC1080 accounts for 1080 genes, associated with 2190 reactions and 1068 unique metabolites and encompasses 83 subsystems distributed across 10 cellular compartments (Figure 1A). Its >32% coverage of estimated metabolic genes is a tremendous expansion over previous algal reconstructions (Boyle and Morgan, 2009; Manichaikul et al, 2009). The lipid metabolic pathways of iRC1080 are considerably expanded relative to existing networks, and chemical properties of all metabolites in these pathways are accounted for explicitly, providing sufficient detail to completely specify all individual molecular species: backbone molecule and stereochemical numbering of acyl-chain positions; acyl-chain length; and number, position, and cis–trans stereoisomerism of carbon–carbon double bonds. Such detail in lipid metabolism will be critical for model-driven metabolic engineering efforts.
We experimentally verified transcripts accounted for in the network under permissive growth conditions, detecting >90% of tested transcript models (Figure 1B) and providing validating evidence for the contents of iRC1080. We also analyzed the extent of transcript verification by specific metabolic subsystems. Some subsystems stood out as more poorly verified, including chloroplast and mitochondrial transport systems and sphingolipid metabolism, all of which exhibited <80% of transcripts detected, reflecting incomplete characterization of compartmental transporters and supporting a hypothesis of latent pathway evolution for ceramide synthesis in C. reinhardtii. Additional lines of evidence from the reconstruction effort similarly support this hypothesis including lack of ceramide synthetase and other annotation gaps downstream in sphingolipid metabolism. A similar hypothesis of latent pathway evolution was established for very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) and their polyunsaturated analogs (VLCPUFAs) (Figure 1C), owing to the absence of this class of lipids in previous experimental measurements, lack of a candidate VLCFA elongase in the functional annotation, and additional downstream annotation gaps in arachidonic acid metabolism.
The network provides a detailed account of metabolic photon absorption by light-driven reactions, including photosystems I and II, light-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase, provitamin D3 photoconversion to vitamin D3, and rhodopsin photoisomerase; this network accounting permits the precise modeling of light-dependent metabolism. iRC1080 accounts for effective light spectral ranges through analysis of biochemical activity spectra (Figure 3A), either reaction activity or absorbance at varying light wavelengths. Defining effective spectral ranges associated with each photon-utilizing reaction enabled our network to model growth under different light sources via stoichiometric representation of the spectral composition of emitted light, termed prism reactions. Coefficients for different photon wavelengths in a prism reaction correspond to the ratios of photon flux in the defined effective spectral ranges to the total emitted photon flux from a given light source (Figure 3B). This approach distinguishes the amount of emitted photons that drive different metabolic reactions. We created prism reactions for most light sources that have been used in published studies for algal and plant growth including solar light, various light bulbs, and LEDs. We also included regulatory effects, resulting from lighting conditions insofar as published studies enabled. Light and dark conditions have been shown to affect metabolic enzyme activity in C. reinhardtii on multiple levels: transcriptional regulation, chloroplast RNA degradation, translational regulation, and thioredoxin-mediated enzyme regulation. Through application of our light model and prism reactions, we were able to closely recapitulate experimental growth measurements under solar, incandescent, and red LED lights. Through unbiased sampling, we were able to establish the tremendous statistical significance of the accuracy of growth predictions achievable through implementation of prism reactions. Finally, application of the photosynthetic model was demonstrated prospectively to evaluate light utilization efficiency under different light sources. The results suggest that, of the existing light sources, red LEDs provide the greatest efficiency, about three times as efficient as sunlight. Extending this analysis, the model was applied to design a maximally efficient LED spectrum for algal growth. The result was a 677-nm peak LED spectrum with a total incident photon flux of 360 μE/m2/s, suggesting that for the simple objective of maximizing growth efficiency, LED technology has already reached an effective theoretical optimum.
In summary, the C. reinhardtii metabolic network iRC1080 that we have reconstructed offers insight into the basic biology of this species and may be employed prospectively for genetic engineering design and light source design relevant to algal biotechnology. iRC1080 was used to analyze lipid metabolism and generate novel hypotheses about the evolution of latent pathways. The predictive capacity of metabolic models developed from iRC1080 was demonstrated in simulating mutant phenotypes and in evaluation of light source efficiency. Our network provides a broad knowledgebase of the biochemistry and genomics underlying global metabolism of a photoautotroph, and our modeling approach for light-driven metabolism exemplifies how integration of largely unvisited data types, such as physicochemical environmental parameters, can expand the diversity of applications of metabolic networks.
Metabolic network reconstruction encompasses existing knowledge about an organism's metabolism and genome annotation, providing a platform for omics data analysis and phenotype prediction. The model alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is employed to study diverse biological processes from photosynthesis to phototaxis. Recent heightened interest in this species results from an international movement to develop algal biofuels. Integrating biological and optical data, we reconstructed a genome-scale metabolic network for this alga and devised a novel light-modeling approach that enables quantitative growth prediction for a given light source, resolving wavelength and photon flux. We experimentally verified transcripts accounted for in the network and physiologically validated model function through simulation and generation of new experimental growth data, providing high confidence in network contents and predictive applications. The network offers insight into algal metabolism and potential for genetic engineering and efficient light source design, a pioneering resource for studying light-driven metabolism and quantitative systems biology.
PMCID: PMC3202792  PMID: 21811229
Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; lipid metabolism; metabolic engineering; photobioreactor
11.  Chromerid genomes reveal the evolutionary path from photosynthetic algae to obligate intracellular parasites 
eLife  null;4:e06974.
The eukaryotic phylum Apicomplexa encompasses thousands of obligate intracellular parasites of humans and animals with immense socio-economic and health impacts. We sequenced nuclear genomes of Chromera velia and Vitrella brassicaformis, free-living non-parasitic photosynthetic algae closely related to apicomplexans. Proteins from key metabolic pathways and from the endomembrane trafficking systems associated with a free-living lifestyle have been progressively and non-randomly lost during adaptation to parasitism. The free-living ancestor contained a broad repertoire of genes many of which were repurposed for parasitic processes, such as extracellular proteins, components of a motility apparatus, and DNA- and RNA-binding protein families. Based on transcriptome analyses across 36 environmental conditions, Chromera orthologs of apicomplexan invasion-related motility genes were co-regulated with genes encoding the flagellar apparatus, supporting the functional contribution of flagella to the evolution of invasion machinery. This study provides insights into how obligate parasites with diverse life strategies arose from a once free-living phototrophic marine alga.
eLife digest
Single-celled parasites cause many severe diseases in humans and animals. The apicomplexans form probably the most successful group of these parasites and include the parasites that cause malaria. Apicomplexans infect a broad range of hosts, including humans, reptiles, birds, and insects, and often have complicated life cycles. For example, the malaria-causing parasites spread by moving from humans to female mosquitoes and then back to humans.
Despite significant differences amongst apicomplexans, these single-celled parasites also share a number of features that are not seen in other living species. How and when these features arose remains unclear. It is known from previous work that apicomplexans are closely related to single-celled algae. But unlike apicomplexans, which depend on a host animal to survive, these algae live freely in their environment, often in close association with corals.
Woo et al. have now sequenced the genomes of two photosynthetic algae that are thought to be close living relatives of the apicomplexans. These genomes were then compared to each other and to the genomes of other algae and apicomplexans. These comparisons reconfirmed that the two algae that were studied were close relatives of the apicomplexans.
Further analyses suggested that thousands of genes were lost as an ancient free-living algae evolved into the apicomplexan ancestor, and further losses occurred as these early parasites evolved into modern species. The lost genes were typically those that are important for free-living organisms, but are either a hindrance to, or not needed in, a parasitic lifestyle. Some of the ancestor's genes, especially those that coded for the building blocks of flagella (structures which free-living algae use to move around), were repurposed in ways that helped the apicomplexans to invade their hosts. Understanding this repurposing process in greater detail will help to identify key molecules in these deadly parasites that could be targeted by drug treatments. It will also offer answers to one of the most fascinating questions in evolutionary biology: how parasites have evolved from free-living organisms.
PMCID: PMC4501334  PMID: 26175406
Chromera velia; Vitrella brassicaformis; evolution of parasitism; malaria; toxoplasmosis; other
12.  The First Symbiont-Free Genome Sequence of Marine Red Alga, Susabi-nori (Pyropia yezoensis) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57122.
Nori, a marine red alga, is one of the most profitable mariculture crops in the world. However, the biological properties of this macroalga are poorly understood at the molecular level. In this study, we determined the draft genome sequence of susabi-nori (Pyropia yezoensis) using next-generation sequencing platforms. For sequencing, thalli of P. yezoensis were washed to remove bacteria attached on the cell surface and enzymatically prepared as purified protoplasts. The assembled contig size of the P. yezoensis nuclear genome was approximately 43 megabases (Mb), which is an order of magnitude smaller than the previously estimated genome size. A total of 10,327 gene models were predicted and about 60% of the genes validated lack introns and the other genes have shorter introns compared to large-genome algae, which is consistent with the compact size of the P. yezoensis genome. A sequence homology search showed that 3,611 genes (35%) are functionally unknown and only 2,069 gene groups are in common with those of the unicellular red alga, Cyanidioschyzon merolae. As color trait determinants of red algae, light-harvesting genes involved in the phycobilisome were predicted from the P. yezoensis nuclear genome. In particular, we found a second homolog of phycobilisome-degradation gene, which is usually chloroplast-encoded, possibly providing a novel target for color fading of susabi-nori in aquaculture. These findings shed light on unexplained features of macroalgal genes and genomes, and suggest that the genome of P. yezoensis is a promising model genome of marine red algae.
PMCID: PMC3594237  PMID: 23536760
13.  Antibacterial substances from marine algae isolated from Jeddah coast of Red sea, Saudi Arabia 
Marine algae are known to produce a wide variety of bioactive secondary metabolites and several compounds have been derived from them for prospective development of novel drugs by the pharmaceutical industries. However algae of the Red sea have not been adequately explored for their potential as a source of bioactive substances. In this context Ulva reticulata, Caulerpa occidentalis, Cladophora socialis, Dictyota ciliolata, and Gracilaria dendroides isolated from Red sea coastal waters of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, were evaluated for their potential for bioactivity. Extracts of the algae selected for the study were prepared using ethanol, chloroform, petroleum ether and water, and assayed for antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli ATCC 25322, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 27853, Stapylococcus aureus ATCC 29213, and Enterococcus faecalis ATCC 29212. It was found that chloroform was most effective followed by ethanol, petroleum ether and water for the preparation of algal extract with significant antibacterial activities, respectively. Results also indicated that the extracts of red alga G. dendroides were more efficient against the tested bacterial strains followed by green alga U. reticulata, and brown algae D. ciliolata. Chemical analyses showed that G. dendroides recorded the highest percentages of the total fats and total proteins, followed by U. reticulata, and D. ciliolate. Among the bioflavonoids determined Rutin, Quercetin and Kaempherol were present in high percentages in G. dendroides, U. reticulata, and D. ciliolate. Estimation of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids revealed that palmitic acid was present in highest percentage in all the algal species analyzed. Amino acid analyses indicated the presence of free amino acids in moderate contents in all the species of algae. The results indicated scope for utilizing these algae as a source of antibacterial substances.
PMCID: PMC3937469  PMID: 24596500
Marine algae; Red sea; Antibacterial activity; Human pathogens; Phyto-chemical analyses
14.  Nuclear DNA Content Variation in Life History Phases of the Bonnemasoniaceae (Rhodophyta) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86006.
Nuclear DNA content in gametophytes and sporophytes or the prostrate phases of the following species of Bonnemaisoniaceae (Asparagopsis armata, Asparagopsis taxiformis, Bonnemaisonia asparagoides, Bonnemaisonia clavata and Bonnemaisonia hamifera) were estimated by image analysis and static microspectrophotometry using the DNA-localizing fluorochrome DAPI (4′, 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, dilactate) and the chicken erythrocytes standard. These estimates expand on the Kew database of DNA nuclear content. DNA content values for 1C nuclei in the gametophytes (spermatia and vegetative cells) range from 0.5 pg to 0.8 pg, and for 2C nuclei in the sporophytes or the prostrate phases range from 1.15–1.7 pg. Although only the 2C and 4C values were observed in the sporophyte or the prostrate phase, in the vegetative cells of the gametophyte the values oscillated from 1C to 4C, showing the possible start of endopolyploidy. The results confirm the alternation of nuclear phases in these Bonnemaisoniaceae species, in those that have tetrasporogenesis, as well as those that have somatic meiosis. The availability of a consensus phylogenetic tree for Bonnemaisoniaceae has opened the way to determine evolutionary trends in DNA contents. Both the estimated genome sizes and the published chromosome numbers for Bonnemaisoniaceae suggest a narrow range of values consistent with the conservation of an ancestral genome.
PMCID: PMC3899103  PMID: 24465835
15.  An unexpectedly large and loosely packed mitochondrial genome in the charophycean green alga Chlorokybus atmophyticus 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:137.
The Streptophyta comprises all land plants and six groups of charophycean green algae. The scaly biflagellate Mesostigma viride (Mesostigmatales) and the sarcinoid Chlorokybus atmophyticus (Chlorokybales) represent the earliest diverging lineages of this phylum. In trees based on chloroplast genome data, these two charophycean green algae are nested in the same clade. To validate this relationship and gain insight into the ancestral state of the mitochondrial genome in the Charophyceae, we sequenced the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of Chlorokybus and compared this genome sequence with those of three other charophycean green algae and the bryophytes Marchantia polymorpha and Physcomitrella patens.
The Chlorokybus genome differs radically from its 42,424-bp Mesostigma counterpart in size, gene order, intron content and density of repeated elements. At 201,763-bp, it is the largest mtDNA yet reported for a green alga. The 70 conserved genes represent 41.4% of the genome sequence and include nad10 and trnL(gag), two genes reported for the first time in a streptophyte mtDNA. At the gene order level, the Chlorokybus genome shares with its Chara, Chaetosphaeridium and bryophyte homologues eight to ten gene clusters including about 20 genes. Notably, some of these clusters exhibit gene linkages not previously found outside the Streptophyta, suggesting that they originated early during streptophyte evolution. In addition to six group I and 14 group II introns, short repeated sequences accounting for 7.5% of the genome were identified. Mitochondrial trees were unable to resolve the correct position of Mesostigma, due to analytical problems arising from accelerated sequence evolution in this lineage.
The Chlorokybus and Mesostigma mtDNAs exemplify the marked fluidity of the mitochondrial genome in charophycean green algae. The notion that the mitochondrial genome was constrained to remain compact during charophycean evolution is no longer tenable. Our data raise the possibility that the emergence of land plants was not associated with a substantial gain of intergenic sequences by the mitochondrial genome.
PMCID: PMC1894977  PMID: 17537252
16.  Mediterranean Species of Caulerpa Are Polyploid with Smaller Genomes in the Invasive Ones 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47728.
Caulerpa species are marine green algae, which often act as invasive species with rapid clonal proliferation when growing outside their native biogeographical borders. Despite many publications on the genetics and ecology of Caulerpa species, their life history and ploidy levels are still to be resolved and are the subject of large controversy. While some authors claimed that the thallus found in nature has a haplodiplobiontic life cycle with heteromorphic alternation of generations, other authors claimed a diploid or haploid life cycle with only one generation involved. DAPI-staining with image analysis and microspectrophotometry were used to estimate relative nuclear DNA contents in three species of Caulerpa from the Mediterranean, at individual, population and species levels. Results show that ploidy levels and genome size vary in these three Caulerpa species, with a reduction in genome size for the invasive ones. Caulerpa species in the Mediterranean are polyploids in different life history phases; all sampled C. taxifolia and C. racemosa var. cylindracea were in haplophasic phase, but in C. prolifera, the native species, individuals were found in both diplophasic and haplophasic phases. Different levels of endopolyploidy were found in both C. prolifera and C. racemosa var. cylindracea. Life history is elucidated for the Mediterranean C. prolifera and it is hypothesized that haplophasic dominance in C. racemosa var. cylindracea and C. taxifolia is a beneficial trait for their invasive strategies.
PMCID: PMC3478284  PMID: 23110095
17.  Genome, Functional Gene Annotation, and Nuclear Transformation of the Heterokont Oleaginous Alga Nannochloropsis oceanica CCMP1779 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003064.
Unicellular marine algae have promise for providing sustainable and scalable biofuel feedstocks, although no single species has emerged as a preferred organism. Moreover, adequate molecular and genetic resources prerequisite for the rational engineering of marine algal feedstocks are lacking for most candidate species. Heterokonts of the genus Nannochloropsis naturally have high cellular oil content and are already in use for industrial production of high-value lipid products. First success in applying reverse genetics by targeted gene replacement makes Nannochloropsis oceanica an attractive model to investigate the cell and molecular biology and biochemistry of this fascinating organism group. Here we present the assembly of the 28.7 Mb genome of N. oceanica CCMP1779. RNA sequencing data from nitrogen-replete and nitrogen-depleted growth conditions support a total of 11,973 genes, of which in addition to automatic annotation some were manually inspected to predict the biochemical repertoire for this organism. Among others, more than 100 genes putatively related to lipid metabolism, 114 predicted transcription factors, and 109 transcriptional regulators were annotated. Comparison of the N. oceanica CCMP1779 gene repertoire with the recently published N. gaditana genome identified 2,649 genes likely specific to N. oceanica CCMP1779. Many of these N. oceanica–specific genes have putative orthologs in other species or are supported by transcriptional evidence. However, because similarity-based annotations are limited, functions of most of these species-specific genes remain unknown. Aside from the genome sequence and its analysis, protocols for the transformation of N. oceanica CCMP1779 are provided. The availability of genomic and transcriptomic data for Nannochloropsis oceanica CCMP1779, along with efficient transformation protocols, provides a blueprint for future detailed gene functional analysis and genetic engineering of Nannochloropsis species by a growing academic community focused on this genus.
Author Summary
Algae are a highly diverse group of organisms that have become the focus of renewed interest due to their potential for producing biofuel feedstocks, nutraceuticals, and biomaterials. Their high photosynthetic yields and ability to grow in areas unsuitable for agriculture provide a potential sustainable alternative to using traditional agricultural crops for biofuels. Because none of the algae currently in use have a history of domestication, and bioengineering of algae is still in its infancy, there is a need to develop algal strains adapted to cultivation for industrial large-scale production of desired compounds. Model organisms ranging from mice to baker's yeast have been instrumental in providing insights into fundamental biological structures and functions. The algal field needs versatile models to develop a fundamental understanding of photosynthetic production of biomass and valuable compounds in unicellular, marine, oleaginous algal species. To contribute to the development of such an algal model system for basic discovery, we sequenced the genome and two sets of transcriptomes of N. oceanica CCMP1779, assembled the genomic sequence, identified putative genes, and began to interpret the function of selected genes. This species was chosen because it is readily transformable with foreign DNA and grows well in culture.
PMCID: PMC3499364  PMID: 23166516
18.  Nucleomorph and plastid genome sequences of the chlorarachniophyte Lotharella oceanica: convergent reductive evolution and frequent recombination in nucleomorph-bearing algae 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):374.
Nucleomorphs are residual nuclei derived from eukaryotic endosymbionts in chlorarachniophyte and cryptophyte algae. The endosymbionts that gave rise to nucleomorphs and plastids in these two algal groups were green and red algae, respectively. Despite their independent origin, the chlorarachniophyte and cryptophyte nucleomorph genomes share similar genomic features such as extreme size reduction and a three-chromosome architecture. This suggests that similar reductive evolutionary forces have acted to shape the nucleomorph genomes in the two groups. Thus far, however, only a single chlorarachniophyte nucleomorph and plastid genome has been sequenced, making broad evolutionary inferences within the chlorarachniophytes and between chlorarachniophytes and cryptophytes difficult. We have sequenced the nucleomorph and plastid genomes of the chlorarachniophyte Lotharella oceanica in order to gain insight into nucleomorph and plastid genome diversity and evolution.
The L. oceanica nucleomorph genome was found to consist of three linear chromosomes totaling ~610 kilobase pairs (kbp), much larger than the 373 kbp nucleomorph genome of the model chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans. The L. oceanica plastid genome is 71 kbp in size, similar to that of B. natans. Unexpectedly long (~35 kbp) sub-telomeric repeat regions were identified in the L. oceanica nucleomorph genome; internal multi-copy regions were also detected. Gene content analyses revealed that nucleomorph house-keeping genes and spliceosomal intron positions are well conserved between the L. oceanica and B. natans nucleomorph genomes. More broadly, gene retention patterns were found to be similar between nucleomorph genomes in chlorarachniophytes and cryptophytes. Chlorarachniophyte plastid genomes showed near identical protein coding gene complements as well as a high level of synteny.
We have provided insight into the process of nucleomorph genome evolution by elucidating the fine-scale dynamics of sub-telomeric repeat regions. Homologous recombination at the chromosome ends appears to be frequent, serving to expand and contract nucleomorph genome size. The main factor influencing nucleomorph genome size variation between different chlorarachniophyte species appears to be expansion-contraction of these telomere-associated repeats rather than changes in the number of unique protein coding genes. The dynamic nature of chlorarachniophyte nucleomorph genomes lies in stark contrast to their plastid genomes, which appear to be highly stable in terms of gene content and synteny.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-374) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4035089  PMID: 24885563
Nucleomorph; Genome reduction; Chlorarachniophytes; Cryptophytes; Endosymbiosis; Phylogenomics
19.  A clade uniting the green algae Mesostigma viride and Chlorokybus atmophyticus represents the deepest branch of the Streptophyta in chloroplast genome-based phylogenies 
BMC Biology  2007;5:2.
The Viridiplantae comprise two major phyla: the Streptophyta, containing the charophycean green algae and all land plants, and the Chlorophyta, containing the remaining green algae. Despite recent progress in unravelling phylogenetic relationships among major green plant lineages, problematic nodes still remain in the green tree of life. One of the major issues concerns the scaly biflagellate Mesostigma viride, which is either regarded as representing the earliest divergence of the Streptophyta or a separate lineage that diverged before the Chlorophyta and Streptophyta. Phylogenies based on chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes support the latter view. Because some green plant lineages are not represented in these phylogenies, sparse taxon sampling has been suspected to yield misleading topologies. Here, we describe the complete chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequence of the early-diverging charophycean alga Chlorokybus atmophyticus and present chloroplast genome-based phylogenies with an expanded taxon sampling.
The 152,254 bp Chlorokybus cpDNA closely resembles its Mesostigma homologue at the gene content and gene order levels. Using various methods of phylogenetic inference, we analyzed amino acid and nucleotide data sets that were derived from 45 protein-coding genes common to the cpDNAs of 37 green algal/land plant taxa and eight non-green algae. Unexpectedly, all best trees recovered a robust clade uniting Chlorokybus and Mesostigma. In protein trees, this clade was sister to all streptophytes and chlorophytes and this placement received moderate support. In contrast, gene trees provided unequivocal support to the notion that the Mesostigma + Chlorokybus clade represents the earliest-diverging branch of the Streptophyta. Independent analyses of structural data (gene content and/or gene order) and of subsets of amino acid data progressively enriched in slow-evolving sites led us to conclude that the latter topology reflects the true organismal relationships.
In disclosing a sister relationship between the Mesostigmatales and Chlorokybales, our study resolves the long-standing debate about the nature of the unicellular flagellated ancestors of land plants and alters significantly our concepts regarding the evolution of streptophyte algae. Moreover, in predicting a richer chloroplast gene repertoire than previously inferred for the common ancestor of all streptophytes, our study has contributed to a better understanding of chloroplast genome evolution in the Viridiplantae.
PMCID: PMC1781420  PMID: 17222354
20.  Survey Sequencing Reveals Elevated DNA Transposon Activity, Novel Elements, and Variation in Repetitive Landscapes among Vesper Bats 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2012;4(4):575-585.
The repetitive landscapes of mammalian genomes typically display high Class I (retrotransposon) transposable element (TE) content, which usually comprises around half of the genome. In contrast, the Class II (DNA transposon) contribution is typically small (<3% in model mammals). Most mammalian genomes exhibit a precipitous decline in Class II activity beginning roughly 40 Ma. The first signs of more recently active mammalian Class II TEs were obtained from the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, and are reflected by higher genome content (∼5%). To aid in determining taxonomic limits and potential impacts of this elevated Class II activity, we performed 454 survey sequencing of a second Myotis species as well as four additional taxa within the family Vespertilionidae and an outgroup species from Phyllostomidae. Graph-based clustering methods were used to reconstruct the major repeat families present in each species and novel elements were identified in several taxa. Retrotransposons remained the dominant group with regard to overall genome mass. Elevated Class II TE composition (3–4%) was observed in all five vesper bats, while less than 0.5% of the phyllostomid reads were identified as Class II derived. Differences in satellite DNA and Class I TE content are also described among vespertilionid taxa. These analyses present the first cohesive description of TE evolution across closely related mammalian species, revealing genome-scale differences in TE content within a single family.
PMCID: PMC3342881  PMID: 22491057
transposon; survey sequencing; Chiroptera
21.  Sex-biased gene expression in the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:294.
The fucoid brown algae (Heterokontophyta, Phaeophyceae) are increasingly the focus of ecological genetics, biodiversity, biogeography and speciation research. The molecular genetics underlying mating system variation, where repeated dioecious – hermaphrodite switches during evolution are recognized, and the molecular evolution of sex-related genes are key questions currently hampered by a lack of genomic information. We therefore undertook a comparative analysis of male and female reproductive tissue transcriptomes against a vegetative background during natural reproductive cycles in Fucus vesiculosus.
Over 300 k reads were assembled and annotated against public protein databases including a brown alga. Compared with the vegetative tissue, photosynthetic and carbohydrate metabolism pathways were under-expressed, particularly in male tissue, while several pathways involved in genetic information processing and replication were over-expressed. Estimates of sex-biased gene (SBG) expression were higher for male (14% of annotated orthologues) than female tissue (9%) relative to the vegetative background. Mean expression levels and variance were also greater in male- than female-biased genes. Major female-biased genes were carbohydrate-modifying enzymes with likely roles in zygote cell wall biogenesis and/or modification. Male-biased genes reflected distinct sperm development and function, and orthologues for signal perception (a phototropin), transduction (several kinases), and putatively flagella-localized proteins (including candidate gamete-recognition proteins) were uniquely expressed in males. Overall, the results suggest constraint on female-biased genes (possible pleiotropy), and less constrained male-biased genes, mostly associated with sperm-specific functions.
Our results support the growing contention that males possess a large array of genes regulating male fitness, broadly supporting findings in evolutionarily distant heterogametic animal models. This work identifies an annotated set of F. vesiculosus gene products that potentially regulate sexual reproduction and may contribute to prezygotic isolation, one essential step towards developing tools for a functional understanding of species isolation and differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3652789  PMID: 23634783
Brown algae; Fucus; Heterogametic sexes; Reproduction; Sex-biased genes; Sperm; Transcriptomics
22.  Genomic reduction and evolution of novel genetic membranes and protein-targeting machinery in eukaryote-eukaryote chimaeras (meta-algae). 
Chloroplasts originated just once, from cyanobacteria enslaved by a biciliate protozoan to form the plant kingdom (green plants, red and glaucophyte algae), but subsequently, were laterally transferred to other lineages to form eukaryote-eukaryote chimaeras or meta-algae. This process of secondary symbiogenesis (permanent merger of two phylogenetically distinct eukaryote cells) has left remarkable traces of its evolutionary role in the more complex topology of the membranes surrounding all non-plant (meta-algal) chloroplasts. It took place twice, soon after green and red algae diverged over 550 Myr ago to form two independent major branches of the eukaryotic tree (chromalveolates and cabozoa), comprising both meta-algae and numerous secondarily non-photosynthetic lineages. In both cases, enslavement probably began by evolving a novel targeting of endomembrane vesicles to the perialgal vacuole to implant host porter proteins for extracting photosynthate. Chromalveolates arose by such enslavement of a unicellular red alga and evolution of chlorophyll c to form the kingdom Chromista and protozoan infrakingdom Alveolata, which diverged from the ancestral chromalveolate chimaera. Cabozoa arose when the common ancestor of euglenoids and cercozoan chlorarachnean algae enslaved a tetraphyte green alga with chlorophyll a and b. I suggest that in cabozoa the endomembrane vesicles originally budded from the Golgi, whereas in chromalveolates they budded from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) independently of Golgi-targeted vesicles, presenting a potentially novel target for drugs against alveolate Sporozoa such as malaria parasites and Toxoplasma. These hypothetical ER-derived vesicles mediated fusion of the perialgal vacuole and rough ER (RER) in the ancestral chromist, placing the former red alga within the RER lumen. Subsequently, this chimaera diverged to form cryptomonads, which retained the red algal nucleus as a nucleomorph (NM) with approximately 464 protein-coding genes (30 encoding plastid proteins) and a red or blue phycobiliprotein antenna pigment, and the chromobiotes (heterokonts and haptophytes), which lost phycobilins and evolved the brown carotenoid fucoxanthin that colours brown seaweeds, diatoms and haptophytes. Chromobiotes transferred the 30 genes to the nucleus and lost the NM genome and nuclear-pore complexes, but retained its membrane as the periplastid reticulum (PPR), putatively the phospholipid factory of the periplastid space (former algal cytoplasm), as did the ancestral alveolate independently. The chlorarachnean NM has three minute chromosomes bearing approximately 300 genes riddled with pygmy introns. I propose that the periplastid membrane (PPM, the former algal plasma membrane) of chromalveolates, and possibly chlorarachneans, grows by fusion of vesicles emanating from the NM envelope or PPR. Dinoflagellates and euglenoids independently lost the PPM and PPR (after diverging from Sporozoa and chlorarachneans, respectively) and evolved triple chloroplast envelopes comprising the original plant double envelope and an extra outermost membrane, the EM, derived from the perialgal vacuole. In all metaalgae most chloroplast proteins are coded by nuclear genes and enter the chloroplast by using bipartite targeting sequences--an upstream signal sequence for entering the ER and a downstream chloroplast transit sequence. I present a new theory for the four-fold diversification of the chloroplast OM protein translocon following its insertion into the PPM to facilitate protein translocation across it (of both periplastid and plastid proteins). I discuss evidence from genome sequencing and other sources on the contrasting modes of protein targeting, cellular integration, and evolution of these two major lineages of eukaryote "cells within cells". They also provide powerful evidence for natural selection's effectiveness in eliminating most functionless DNA and therefore of a universally useful non-genic function for nuclear non-coding DNA, i.e. most DNA in the biosphere, and dramatic examples of genomic reduction. I briefly argue that chloroplast replacement in dinoflagellates, which happened at least twice, may have been evolutionarily easier than secondary symbiogenesis because parts of the chromalveolate protein-targeting machinery could have helped enslave the foreign plastids.
PMCID: PMC1693104  PMID: 12594921
23.  The complete chloroplast DNA sequences of the charophycean green algae Staurastrum and Zygnema reveal that the chloroplast genome underwent extensive changes during the evolution of the Zygnematales 
BMC Biology  2005;3:22.
The Streptophyta comprise all land plants and six monophyletic groups of charophycean green algae. Phylogenetic analyses of four genes from three cellular compartments support the following branching order for these algal lineages: Mesostigmatales, Chlorokybales, Klebsormidiales, Zygnematales, Coleochaetales and Charales, with the last lineage being sister to land plants. Comparative analyses of the Mesostigma viride (Mesostigmatales) and land plant chloroplast genome sequences revealed that this genome experienced many gene losses, intron insertions and gene rearrangements during the evolution of charophyceans. On the other hand, the chloroplast genome of Chaetosphaeridium globosum (Coleochaetales) is highly similar to its land plant counterparts in terms of gene content, intron composition and gene order, indicating that most of the features characteristic of land plant chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) were acquired from charophycean green algae. To gain further insight into when the highly conservative pattern displayed by land plant cpDNAs originated in the Streptophyta, we have determined the cpDNA sequences of the distantly related zygnematalean algae Staurastrum punctulatum and Zygnema circumcarinatum.
The 157,089 bp Staurastrum and 165,372 bp Zygnema cpDNAs encode 121 and 125 genes, respectively. Although both cpDNAs lack an rRNA-encoding inverted repeat (IR), they are substantially larger than Chaetosphaeridium and land plant cpDNAs. This increased size is explained by the expansion of intergenic spacers and introns. The Staurastrum and Zygnema genomes differ extensively from one another and from their streptophyte counterparts at the level of gene order, with the Staurastrum genome more closely resembling its land plant counterparts than does Zygnema cpDNA. Many intergenic regions in Zygnema cpDNA harbor tandem repeats. The introns in both Staurastrum (8 introns) and Zygnema (13 introns) cpDNAs represent subsets of those found in land plant cpDNAs. They represent 16 distinct insertion sites, only five of which are shared by the two zygnematalean genomes. Three of these insertions sites have not been identified in Chaetosphaeridium cpDNA.
The chloroplast genome experienced substantial changes in overall structure, gene order, and intron content during the evolution of the Zygnematales. Most of the features considered earlier as typical of land plant cpDNAs probably originated before the emergence of the Zygnematales and Coleochaetales.
PMCID: PMC1277820  PMID: 16236178
24.  A Simple and Effective Method for High Quality Co-Extraction of Genomic DNA and Total RNA from Low Biomass Ectocarpus siliculosus, the Model Brown Alga 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96470.
The brown seaweed Ectocarpus siliculosus is an emerging model species distributed worldwide in temperate coastal ecosystems. Over 1500 strains of E. siliculosus are available in culture from a broad range of geographic locations and ecological niches. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying its capacity to cope with different environmental and biotic stressors, genomic and transcriptomic studies are necessary; this requires the co-isolation of genomic DNA and total RNA. In brown algae, extraction of nucleic acids is hindered by high concentrations of secondary metabolites that co-precipitate with nucleic acids. Here, we propose a reliable, rapid and cost-effective procedure for the co-isolation of high-quality nucleic acids using small quantities of biomass (25-, 50- and 100 mg) from strains of E. siliculosus (RHO12; LIA4A; EC524 and REP10–11) isolated from sites with different environmental conditions. The procedure employs a high pH extraction buffer (pH 9.5) which contains 100 mM Tris-HCl and 150 mM NaCl, with the addition of 5 mM DTT and 1% sarkosyl to ensure maximum solubility of nucleic acids, effective inhibition of nuclease activity and removal of interfering contaminants (e.g. polysaccharides, polyphenols). The use of sodium acetate together with isopropanol shortened precipitation time and enhanced the yields of DNA/RNA. A phenol:chlorophorm:isoamyl alcohol step was subsequently used to purify the nucleic acids. The present protocol produces high yields of nucleic acids from only 25 mg of fresh algal biomass (0.195 and 0.284 µg mg−1 fresh weigh of RNA and DNA, respectively) and the high quality of the extracted nucleic acids was confirmed through spectrophotometric and electrophoretic analyses. The isolated RNA can be used directly in downstream applications such as RT-PCR and the genomic DNA was suitable for PCR, producing reliable restriction enzyme digestion patterns. Co-isolation of DNA/RNA from different strains indicates that this method is likely to have wider applications for intra- and inter-specific studies on other brown algae.
PMCID: PMC4035266  PMID: 24867404
25.  Polyploidy of Endosymbiotically Derived Genomes in Complex Algae 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(4):974-980.
Chlorarachniophyte and cryptophyte algae have complex plastids that were acquired by the uptake of a green or red algal endosymbiont via secondary endosymbiosis. The plastid is surrounded by four membranes, and a relict nucleus, called the nucleomorph, remains in the periplastidal compartment that is the remnant cytoplasm of the endosymbiont. Thus, these two algae possess four different genomes in a cell: Nuclear, nucleomorph, plastid, and mitochondrial. Recently, sequencing of the nuclear genomes of the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans and the cryptophyte Guillardia theta has been completed, and all four genomes have been made available. However, the copy number of each genome has never been investigated. It is important to know the actual DNA content of each genome, especially the highly reduced nucleomorph genome, for studies on genome evolution. In this study, we calculated genomic copy numbers in B. natans and G. theta using a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction approach. The nuclear genomes were haploid in both species, whereas the nucleomorph genomes were estimated to be diploid and tetraploid, respectively. Mitochondria and plastids contained a large copy number of genomic DNA in each cell. In the secondary endosymbioses of chlorarachniophytes and cryptophytes, the endosymbiont nuclear genomes were highly reduced in size and in the number of coding genes, whereas the chromosomal copy number was increased, as in bacterial endosymbiont genomes. This suggests that polyploidization is a general characteristic of highly reduced genomes in broad prokaryotic and eukaryotic endosymbionts.
PMCID: PMC4007541  PMID: 24709562
chlorarachniophyte; cryptophyte; endosymbiosis; nucleomorph; plastid

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