Crop Biotech Update

Study Reveals Plant Genes that Shaped the World

April 3, 2019

A new library of mutants of the single-celled photosynthetic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has enabled a team of plant scientists from Carnegie Institution for Science and Princeton University to identify more than 300 genes that are potentially required for photosynthesis.

Chlamydomonas is found in fresh and saltwater, moist soil, and even snow. This group of algae is photosynthetic and readily grow in the lab, even in darkness if given the right nutrients. The research team created a library of about 80,000 Chlamydomonas mutants where they identified 303 genes thought to be involved in photosynthesis. Of these, 65 encode proteins that were already known to play a role in photosynthesis. The remaining 238 genes had no previously known role in photosynthesis, making them targets for further research. Twenty-one of them are considered high-priorities for additional investigations.

The research findings show that nearly half of the genes that are necessary for plants to create carbohydrates by photosynthesis have not yet been characterized.

For more details, read the news release from Carnegie Science.