>Bhattacharya and colleagues consider this study "the final piece of the puzzle to understand the origin of photosynthesis in eukaryotes." Basic understanding of much of the subsequent evolution of eukaryotes, including the rise of plants and animals, is emerging from the sequencing of the Cyanophora paradoxa
genome, a function-rich species that retains much of the ancestral gene diversity shared by algae and plants. For those unfamiliar with algae, they include the ubiquitious diatoms that are some of the most prodigious primary producers on our planet, accounting for up to 40% of the annual fixed carbon in the marine environment.
Bhattacharya leads the Rutgers Genome Cooperative that has spread the use of genome methods among university faculty. Using data generated by the Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx in his lab, Bhattacharya, his lab members Dana C. Price, Cheong Xin Chan, Jeferson Gross, Divino Rajah and collaborators from the U.S., Europe and Canada provided conclusive evidence that all plastids trace their origin to a single primary endosymbiosis.
Now that the blueprint of eukaryotic photosynthesis has come more clearly in sight, researchers will be able to figure out not only what unites all algae as plants but also what key features make them different from each other and the genes underlying these functions.
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