The researchers have gleaned new insights about human diseases associated with dysfunction in human cilia, including diseases of the kidney and the eye.
The scientists from the United States, France, China, Japan, Germany, Australia and elsewhere can now predict what many of Chlamydomonas' genes do.
Co-authors on the paper include Simon Prochnik and Daniel Rokhsar of the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute and Arthur Grossman of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
"We curate and catalog genes like an art curator curates works of art," Merchant said.
"An organism is more than the sum of its parts, but historically we've been able to look at only the little parts," she said. "In the genome age of biology, we can now analyze the whole organism. Now we can look at the whole organism and can figure out how the parts are linked. As a result of this project, we understand the organism much more and have a much better understanding of the connections, and we have tools to learn even more."
The Joint Genome Institute determined the genome sequence to discover what Chlamydomonas' DNA encodes.
While not the common ancestor of plants and animals, Chlamydomonas retains genes and proteins from the common ancestor, Merchant said.
The researchers performed a comparative gene analysis across species to explore the evolutionary history of Chlamydomonas and its relationship to other organisms. Of the 6,968 protein families that have so-called "homologs" proteins that have similar amino acid sequences, often reflecting a similar or related function among the species they found that Chlamydomonas shares 35 percent with both flowering plants and humans and an additional 10 per
|Contact: Stuart Wolpert|
University of California - Los Angeles