DOE-JGI Sequences Genome of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, CO2 Capturing Green Alga


Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a model system for studying a major form of photosynthesis, the process of fixing CO2 and converting it to biomass, as well as the structure, assembly, and function of whip-like flagella. Chlamy (as it is commonly known to its friends) is a one-celled, soil-dwelling green alga whose lineage diverged from land plants over 1 billion years ago. The DOE-Joint Genome Institute (DOE-JGI) sequenced the ~121,000,000 base pair nuclear genome of C. reinhardtii and analyzed its 17 chromosomes containing its genetic parts list of over 15,000 predicted genes (humans have an estimated 22,000 genes), published in this week s Science (v.318:245-252, 2007). With multiple (energy generating) mitochondria, two front-located flagella for motility and mating, and a chloroplast that houses the photosynthetic apparatus and critical metabolic pathways, Chlamy is heavily used to study higher-level photosynthesis because, unlike flowering plants, it grows in the dark on an organic carbon source while maintaining a functional photosynthetic apparatus. Chlamy research is also being actively developed for bioremediation purposes and the potential generation of biofuels starting with sunlight and CO2.