Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018

The genome of the algae species Chara braunii has been decoded. It already contains the first genetic characteristics that enabled the water plants' evolutionary transition to land.

500 million years ago, the first plants living in water took to land. The genetic adaptations associated with this transition can already be recognized in the genome of Chara braunii, a species of freshwater algae. An international research team headed by Marburg biologist Stefan Rensing reports on this in the journal Cell.


The algae species Chara braunii uses electrical potentials to transmit signals over longer distances (several centimetres) in its body. It is still unknown which ion channels are involved in this.

Picture: Nora Stingl, Rob Roelfsema, Anna Alova

Rainer Hedrich and Dirk Becker from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, are also members of this team. "The genes of the Chara braunii alga comprises numerous evolutionary innovations that have been ascribed only to land plants so far," Professor Hedrich explains; he is the head of JMU’s Chair of Molecular Plant-Physiology and Biophysics.

The stress hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is one of these innovations. It makes land plants switch to water saving mode during dry conditions. In water plants, this function is redundant. Still these early synthesis steps for ABA are already included in the genes of Chara braunii algae according to Hedrich. The matching hormone receptors in contrast are nowhere to be found.

Specific potassium transporters missing

Chara braunii is a higher developed algae species which resembles a land plant. Among others, it features root-like structures that anchor the plant to the littoral substrate. It is not known whether the algae roots do take up any nutrients like their land-bases counterparts. The alga is permanently surrounded by water containing nutrient salts and has the ability to absorb the vital substances with virtually every cell of its body.

"Most genes that play a role in absorbing and distributing nutrients are also found in the genome of Chara braunii," says Professor Dirk Becker. In contrast, high affinity transporters for potassium as exist in roots of land plants have not yet been detected in Chara: "This could mean that potassium is more easily available in water than in soil."

Algae cells transmit electrical signals

In addition to a primitive root, the algae have a plant-like architecture with internodes and nodes bearing leaf-like structures. The internodes can be up to 20 centimetres apart and are equipped with a special feature: These giant cells emit electrical signals and forward along the body of the algae.

"For this reason, Chara braunii has been used as a model to research the electrical excitability of plant cells since the 1950s," Hedrich explains. "Because its cells fire action potentials following tactile or light stimulation the alga is also called 'green axon'." An axon is the long threadlike part of human and animal nerve cells along which electrical impulses are conducted.

Hedrich's team now wants to harness the decoded Chara braunii genome to study which ion channels in the algae are responsible for the action potentials. In land plants, glutamate receptor channels play a decisive role in the transmission of electrical signals over longer distances. However, these receptors do not exist in the genome of Chara. So scientists still have to resolve a number of questions regarding the evolutionary origins of electrical excitability in plants.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Rainer Hedrich, Julius von Sachs Institute of Biosciences, University of Würzburg, T +49 931 31-86100, hedrich@botanik.uni-wuerzburg.de

Originalpublikation:

Tomoaki Nishiyama, Hidetoshi Sakayama & al.: The Chara genome: secondary complexity and implications for plant terrestrialization, Cell 12. July 2018, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.033

Marco Bosch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Atacama Desert: Some lichens can meet their need for water from air humidity
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival

17.07.2019 | Life Sciences

Harvesting energy from the human knee

17.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Neutrino-Observatorium IceCube am Südpol wird ausgebaut

17.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>