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Fueling Future with Algal Genomics

  • Author(s): Grigoriev, Igor
  • et al.
Abstract

Algae constitute a major component of fundamental eukaryotic diversity, play profound roles in the carbon cycle, and are prominent candidates for biofuel production. The US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (JGI) is leading the world in algal genome sequencing (http://jgi.doe.gov/Algae) and contributes of the algal genome projects worldwide (GOLD database, 2012). The sequenced algal genomes offer catalogs of genes, networks, and pathways. The sequenced first of its kind genomes of a haptophyte E.huxleyii, chlorarachniophyte B.natans, and cryptophyte G.theta fill the gaps in the eukaryotic tree of life and carry unique genes and pathways as well as molecular fossils of secondary endosymbiosis. Natural adaptation to conditions critical for industrial production is encoded in algal genomes, for example, growth of A.anophagefferens at very high cell densities during the harmful algae blooms or a global distribution across diverse environments of E.huxleyii, able to live on sparse nutrients due to its expanded pan-genome. Communications and signaling pathways can be derived from simple symbiotic systems like lichens or complex marine algae metagenomes. Collectively these datasets derived from algal genomics contribute to building a comprehensive parts list essential for algal biofuel development.

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