Understanding the Rhizidium-Bracteacoccus symbiosis is likely to reveal algal genes, and novel algal culture methods, that can be targeted to increase biomass production for biofuel applications. Rhizidium phycophilum is a terrestrial chytrid isolated from soil originating from an Antarctic beech forest in New South Wales, Australia. Originally isolated from pollen and chitin, R. phycophilum can only be maintained in vitro on chitin or in co-culture with a green alga isolated from the same Australian soil sample. Sequencing the genomes and transcriptomes of the fungus and its algal partner could potentially reveal novel algal genes and culturing methods that can be targeted or developed to increase biomass production for biofuel applications.
PI: Kathryn Picard, Duke University