The team is investigating desiccation tolerance in a very phylogenetically broad group of green microalgae isolated from microbiotic crusts of the desert southwestern United States. These algae fall in multiple, evolutionarily independent lineages (in at least 7 algal classes) that made the leap from aquatic to desert habitats. They exhibit clearly stronger desiccation tolerance than their closest known aquatic sister taxa. In collaboration with JGI, they plan to generate comparative grade genome sequences for the four taxa within the genus Scenedesmus. They will combine these data with time course RNA-Seq data we have in hand from three of the four, taken during slow desiccation and rapid rehydration. Together, the data will support exploration of a wide variety of questions, and will be of interest to research communities exploring: the evolution of terrestriality (and desiccation tolerance) within green plants, the control of the cell cycle and resulting uni- vs. coenobial progeny, and biofuels production by green algae (as well as production of other bioproducts and green algal-based bioremediation).
Proposer: Elena Lopez Peredo, Marine Biological Laboratory