Using a phase-contrast microscope, the plant Chlamydomonas is magnified about 1000 times.
Credit: Yoshiki Nishimura/Boyce Thompson Institute
Copyright: © Cornell University
With the genomes of humans and several insects, animals and crop plants mapped or sequenced, biologists are turning their attention to single-celled algae no thicker than a human hair. Among the possible payoffs: crops requiring less fertilizer, a source of renewable energy and a new source for novel proteins.
The algae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii , already are an important biological model for genetics research. Now, the complete genome of the plant’s chloroplast has been sequenced by scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) for Plant Research located on the campus of Cornell University. The chloroplast is the area of the plant that harvests light energy. Details of the sequencing (that is, determining the base sequence of each of the ordered DNA fragments) appear in the latest issue of the journal The Plant Cell (November 2002).
The complete chloroplast genome sequence, says David Stern, a biologist and vice president for research at BTI, a not-for-profit research organization, has made it possible to test the response of Chlamydomonas (pronounced CLAMMY-doe-moan-us) to various environmental stresses, work that is reported in an accompanying article in The Plant Cell . In addition, the organism’s nuclear genome is being sequenced by the Joint Genome Institute, a unit of the Department of Energy.
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