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Tiny algae shed light on photosynthesis as a dynamic property
Date:11/28/2012

process of endosymbiotic gene transfer," said Archibald. Unlike most other secondarily photosynthetic eukaryotes in which the endosymbiont's genetic matter has completely migrated over to the host, in cryptophytes and chlorarachniophytes the nucleus and chloroplast from the engulfed algae remain partitioned off from the host cell. "As a consequence," he added," genetic and biochemical mosaicism is rampant in G. theta and B. natans."

Both researchers highlighted the unexpected finding of alternative splicing in B. natans. Grigoriev noted that the phenomenon is one typical for higher eukaryotes, and Archibald added that the levels "greatly exceed that seen in the model plant Arabidopsis and on par with the human cerebral cortex, unprecedented and truly remarkable for a unicellular organism. This challenges the paradigm that complex alternative splicing is a phenomenon limited to sophisticated multicellular organisms."

"The evolution of chloroplasts, the photosynthetic compartments of plants and algal cells, is complex but has had a profound effect on our planet," said Chris Howe, Professor of Plant and Microbial Biochemistry at Cambridge University in England. "This paper gives us fascinating insights into how host and nucleomorph genomes have been remodeled during evolution. As well as providing a goldmine of information on the general biology of these organisms, the paper shows us that the nucleomorph genomes have probably persisted simply because the mechanism for transfer of genes to the nucleus was closed off, rather than because nucleomorphs had to be retained as separate entities. The paper also shows us that the evolutionary history of the nucleomorph-containing organisms was even more complex than we thought, with evidence for genes from many different sources in their nuclei. Overall, it has provided important insights into the fundamental processes of cell symbiosis and genome reshaping that have produced some of the
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Contact: David Gilbert
degilbert@lbl.gov
925-296-5643
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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