Algal Research 66 , 102794 ( 2022)
Microalgae that are of interest for biofuel production must be able to tolerate environmental changes that occur in outdoor cultivation systems. While algal cultures may experience daily temperature fluctuations and seasonal environmental changes, the underlying mechanisms that control and regulate physiological responses and adaptation to environmental pressures are largely unknown. Systems-level characterization enabled by functional genomics can help identify biochemical pathways that promote stability and productivity of algae in various environmental conditions. Monoraphidium minutum 26B-AM, a freshwater green microalga, was identified as a top performer in biomass production in winter season screens. We sequenced the genome of M. minutum 26B-AM and applied our multi-omics pipeline to profile this high potential strain under high salt and cold temperature perturbations. Through comparative analysis, including other green algae in the class Chlorophyceae, we identified gene families unique to the genus Monoraphidium, including a desaturase that has been linked to cold tolerance in plants. We observed that osmolytes, such as trehalose, proline and betaine, accumulate under salt stress, coinciding with upregulation of genes involved in biosynthesis of these metabolites. From the genome annotation, we reconstructed a metabolic model to provide a detailed map of the metabolic pathways and can be used to simulate growth and reaction fluxes. This multi-omics analysis provides a foundation to explore algal strain potential for biofuel applications, guides strain engineering, and expands our understanding of metabolic and regulatory mechanisms of algae in applied systems.