Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Plankton Genome Sheds Light into Making Fish Oils

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Rothamsted Research scientists have sequenced the whole genome and started characterizing the genes of the ecologically important marine alga Ehux.

"Ehux" is a coccolithophore, with an exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate. Even though the process by which the alga's "armor" forms releases CO2, Ehux can trap as much as 20% of organic carbon, derived from CO2, in some marine ecosystems.

Ehux also produce interesting and important fatty acids such as the omega-3 long chain polyunsaturates such as EPA1 and DHA2. Sequenced by the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), the Ehux genome was compared with sequences from other algal isolates and the results reported in the June 12 edition of Nature.

Ehux and its brethren are the basis of most ocean food chains. Phytoplankton biomass exceeds that of all marine animals combined. Activities of Ehux and some other phytoplankton such as diatoms influence climate processes, such as lowering ocean temperatures by reflecting sunlight and through carbon metabolism. Its versatility in either contributing to primary production of organic compounds from carbon dioxide or adding to CO2 emissions makes Ehux a critical player in the marine carbon cycle.

Part of the third most abundant group of phytoplankton, behind the diatoms and dinoflagellates, the Ehux strain was isolated from the South Pacific and is the first reference genome for coccolithophores. Originally estimated to be about 30 million bases, closer to a diatom, but the genome ended up being closer to 141 million bases.

"Carbon dioxide is fixed during photosynthesis and calcification," said Betsy Read, a professor of biological sciences at California State University, San Marcos who led the large international consortium of 75 researchers from a dozen nations exploring Ehux and the first author of this paper. "It is also released during the process of calcification, but we do not know how this release balances with the amount of CO2 that is buried when Ehux sinks to the bottom of the ocean. This is an important yet unresolved question."

"Ehux thrives in a broad range of physiochemical conditions in the ocean," said Igor Grigoriev, the paper's last author, whose team from the DOE JGI led the genome annotation and analysis. "It's a complex genome, with lots of genes and repeats, the first reference for haptophytes and fills another gap in the Eukaryotic Tree of Life. It is amazing that while you need a microscope in order to see this elegantly sculptured microbe, you can see from outer space the light reflected from large areas of ocean during Ehux blooms."

The researchers also found that the core gene sets include genes that allow Ehux to produce interesting and important fatty acids such as the omega-3 long chain polyunsaturates such as EPA and DHA.

Professor Johnathan Napier of Rothamsted Research noted that Ehux used an unusual aerobic pathway to synthesise these fatty acids . "Micoalgae such as Ehux are the primary producers of so-called fish oils, and given the abundance of this coccolithophore in our oceans, it means that this remarkable organism plays a critical and quirky role at the base of the foodwebs which provide omega-3 PUFAs," he said.

Professor Napier's team at Rothamsted Research, who receive strategic funding from BBSRC, has previously used fatty acid biosynthetic genes from algae to generate transgenic plants capable of synthesizing EPA and DHA.

"We will be very interested in testing the capacity of these new Ehux biosynthetic genes to make omega-3 PUFAs in transgenic plants" said Professor Napier . "These genes may allow for more efficient synthesis of these oils that are important for our health and the environment".


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

World's First Field Scanalyzer at Rothamsted Research
Automated measuring of crop growth and health in the field.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
PHI-base – A Database To Protect Crop Yields And Human Health
Scientists at Rothamsted Research, in collaboration with other researchers globally have improved an Open Access internet resource that catalogues genes involved in host-pathogen interactions.
Friday, January 09, 2015
A Big Step Towards More Efficient Photosynthesis
For the first time flowering plants have been successfully engineered to fix carbon like the blue-green algae do - this can potentially increase photosynthesis and yields in crop plants.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Scientific News
Marijuana Genome Unraveled
A study by Canadian researchers is providing a clearer picture of the evolutionary history and genetic organization of cannabis, a step that could have agricultural, medical and legal implications for this valuable crop.
Grape Waste Could Make Competitive Biofuel
The solid waste left over from wine-making could make a competitive biofuel, University of Adelaide researchers have found.
Accelerating Forage Breeding to Boost Livestock Productivity
International expert skill-sets in genomics and bioinformatics enhance our capacity to breed improved forages for Africa.
Firefly Protein Enables Visualization of Roots in Soil
A new imaging tool from a team led by Carnegie’s José Dinneny allows researchers to study the dynamic growth of root systems in soil, and to uncover the molecular signaling pathways that control such growth.
So Long, Snout
Research helps answer how birds got their beaks.
The Tree of Life — More Like A Bush
New species evolve whenever a lineage splits off into several. Because of this, the kinship between species is often described in terms of a ‘tree of life’, where every branch constitutes a species.
Algae Nutrient Recycling is a Triple Win
Sandia method cheaper, greener and cuts competition for fertilizer.
Non-Transgenic Rapeseed Product Launched For Chinese Market
Cibus and Rotam have announced a new agreement to cooperate in the development of herbicide-tolerant rapeseed in China.
TGAC Leads Development to Diminish Threat to Vietnam’s Most Important Crop
Advanced bioinformatics capabilities for next-generation rice genomics in Vietnam to aid precision breeding.
BESC Creates Microbe That Bolsters Isobutanol Production
Another barrier to commercially viable biofuels from sources other than corn has fallen with the engineering of a microbe that improves isobutanol yields by a factor of 10.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!