Sequencing Algae’s Genome May Aid Biofuel Production
by James Urton (University of Washington) … University of Washington scientists have sequenced the complete genetic makeup of one of these algae. As they recently reported in the journal PLOS Genetics, it is only the second time that researchers have sequenced the genome of one of these ecologically important and plentiful algae, known as haptophytes. Researchers hope to better understand haptophytes and perhaps transform them into an important new tool for aquaculture, biofuel production and nutrition.
“Haptophytes are really important in carbon dioxide management and they form a critical link in the aquatic foodchain,” said senior author and UW biology professor Rose Ann Cattolico. “This new genome shows us so much about this group.”
The haptophyte Cattolico and her team studied is Chrysochromulina tobin, and it thrives in oceans across the globe.
This led Cattolico to team up with Blake Hovde, then a graduate student in the UW Department of Genome Sciences, to sequence the complete genome of this species. Hovde wanted to work on algae in biofuel production, and Chrysochromulina was ideally suited for the task because, unlike most other haptophytes, it has no protective cell wall.
Through this project, Cattolico and her team discovered that there are at least 10 bacterial species that appear to enjoy living near Chrysochromulina.
“That leads to some interesting questions,” said Cattolico. “Is Chrysochromulina selectively using its antimicrobials? Is it ‘farming’ beneficial bacteria in its neighborhood?” READ MORE and MORE (Biomass Magazine) and MORE (Biodiesel Magazine) and MORE (Algae Industry Magazine) Abstract (PLOS)