Sequencing of green alga genome provides blueprint to advance clean energy, bioproducts

Plant biologists have sequenced the genome of a particularly promising species of green alga, providing a blueprint for completely new discoveries in producing sustainable biofuels, antioxidants, along with additional valuable bioproducts.


The researchers targeted Chromochloris zofingiensis, an individual-celled green alga in which has drawn commercial interest among the highest producers of the best lipids for biofuel production.

The team of scientists, led by researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles, recently published their work from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The work was conceived of along with developed at Berkeley Lab by Krishna Niyogi, faculty scientist along with an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“This kind of genome will be an important resource to develop renewable along with sustainable microalgal biofuels to facilitate clean energy along which has a cleaner environment,” said study lead author Melissa Roth, a postdoctoral researcher in Niyogi’s lab. “Algae absorb carbon dioxide along with are intrinsically solar-powered by photosynthesis, nevertheless C. zofingiensis has an added benefit in in which This kind of can be cultivated on non-arable land along with in wastewater.”

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Rotating view of a cryo-soft X-ray tomography reconstructed cell of the green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis dividing into 16 daughter cells with segmented nucleus (purple), chloroplast (green), mitochondria (red), along with lipids (yellow). Credit: Melissa Roth/HHMI along with Andreas Walters/Berkeley Lab

Niyogi also pointed out in which C. zofingiensis can be a natural source for astaxanthin, an antioxidant derived by dietary algae in which gives salmon its pinkish hue. In algae, astaxanthin can be thought to provide protection by oxidative stress.

“This kind of alga has potential as a nutraceutical,” said Niyogi, who can be also a UC Berkeley professor of plant along with microbial biology. “Studies are already underway to determine whether astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial in treatments for cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, along with additional human health problems.”

To get an inside look at the cells, the researchers relied upon the National Center for X-ray Tomography (NCXT), a joint Berkeley Lab-UCSF program located at the Lab’s Advanced Light Source. Using soft X-ray tomography, a technique comparable to a computerized tomography scan, scientists imaged along with then reconstructed sections of the algal genome to generate a 3-D view. Cells were captured dividing into two, four, along with even sixteen daughter cells.

“Combining multiple sequencing techniques, we were able to generate a chromosome-level assembly of the genome, which can be an uncommonly high level of architecture for an alga along with similar to in which of a style organism. In fact, the quality of the C. zofingiensis genome rivals the style green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which was first sequenced about a decade ago,” said Roth.

The alga contains approximately 15,000 genes.


Explore further:
Genome sequence of fuel-producing alga announced

More information:
Melissa S. Roth et al. Chromosome-level genome assembly along with transcriptome of the green algailluminates astaxanthin production, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1619928114

Journal reference:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Provided by:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Sequencing of green alga genome provides blueprint to advance clean energy, bioproducts

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