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Study involving more than 100 scientists provides new insights on green algae
Date:10/11/2007

cent with humans but not with flowering plants.

Chlamydomonas has many proteins that make it well-suited to living in the soil, including large families of specific transporters proteins that help move material across cell membranes which enable it to scavenge nutrients from soil. While some of these transporters have an affiliation with transporters in plants, others are more closely related to those in animals. There are also numerous genes and gene families that relate to making sugars and polysaccharides, to using the sugars and polysaccharides to produce energy, and to building a highly structured and efficient chloroplast, the factory where the cell harnesses the energy of sunlight.

The scientists identified protein families that are shared by Chlamydomonas, flowering plants and other algae but are not present in nonphotosynthetic organisms. This research led them to identify photosynthesis-related proteins conserved across the plant kingdom, with many even conserved in ancient cyanobacteria. The majority of the identified proteins have unknown functions but are probably critical since they have been exclusively maintained in photosynthetic organisms over nearly the entire period that life has existed on Earth.

Mechanisms that apply in algae also apply in many other forms of life and in other kinds of cells, including those of plants and mammals.

"We study algae to understand how cells work," Merchant said. "It's easier to conduct research with a microorganism."


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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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