The team plans de novo sequencing of the (nuclear and organellar) genomes of two species of Zygnematales: Mesotaenium kramstae and Zygnema circumcarinatum. They also aim to conduct transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq), to facilitate genome annotation, and small RNA sequencing, to study the potential regulatory roles of miRNAs in green algae and to assess whether miRNAs have conserved or divergent functions between algae and land plants. The genome sequences of these two algae will be used for comparative genomics studies with other diverse algae and land plant genomes, especially the DOE JGI flagship species (as well as basal land plants). We are interested in identifying key genetic changes that were likely involved in the adaptation to a terrestrial environment. Particularly, we have an interest in studying the evolution of enzymes involved in synthesis/remodeling of the cell wall and responses of the cellular membranes to desiccation, redox stress caused by high light and UV irradiation. The assembled mitochondria and chloroplast genome sequences will also be compared with those of other species to study their evolution and the possible role of these organelles in the transition from aquatic algae to land plants. The miRNAs discovered in these two algae may provide information on the early evolution of small RNAs as key regulators in developmental steps leading to terrestrial plants.
Proposer: Chi Zhang, University of Nebraska-Lincoln