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Crop Biotech Update

Viruses Found in Saltwater Microalgae Could Be the Key to Bio-saline Agriculture

January 13, 2021
Photo Source: iStock

Researchers from New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), in partnership with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), have uncovered different viruses from the genome of saltwater algae that could be the tool for the development of bio-saline agriculture in regions that have high salinity in their water.

The group of researchers has sequenced the whole-genomes of 107 different species of microalgae from a broad range of evolutionary groups and cultured them on extensive environments, specifically saltwater and freshwater. The researchers have found that algae from saltwater such as Chlorovirus, Coccolithovirus, Pandoravirus, Marseillevirus, Tupanvirus, and others have significantly more genes in their genomes compared to algae found in freshwater. These saltwater viruses are responsible for the maintenance of nuclear and cellular membrane integrity in a saline environment.

This genomic information could serve as a guide for future bioengineering efforts for the development of plant strains that can adapt and grow in saltwater and help alleviate problems in food security in regions that have high water salinity.

For more details, read the article in Cell.

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