Biology Faculty Articles

Title

The non-photosynthetic, pathogenic green alga Helicosporidium sp. has retained a modified, functional plastid genome

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2004

Publication Title

FEMS Microbiology Letters

Keywords

Helicosporidium, Green algae, Plastid genome, Genome reduction, Pathogen

ISSN

0378-1097

Volume

233

Issue/No.

1

First Page

153

Last Page

157

Abstract

A fragment of the Helicosporidium sp. (Chlorophyta: Trebouxiophyceae) plastid genome has been sequenced. The genome architecture was compared to that of both a non-photosynthetic relative (Prototheca wickerhamii) and a photosynthetic relative (Chlorella vulgaris). Comparative genomic analysis indicated that Helicosporidium and Prototheca are closely related genera. The analyses also revealed that the Helicosporidium sp. plastid genome has been rearranged. In particular, two ribosomal protein-encoding genes (rpl19 and rps23) appeared to have been transposed, or lost from the Helicosporidium sp. plastid genome. RT-PCR reactions demonstrated that the retained plastid genes were transcribed, suggesting that, despite rearrangement(s), the Helicosporidium sp. plastid genome has remained functional. The modified plastid genome architecture is a novel apomorphy that indicates that the Helicosporidia are highly derived green algae, more so than Prototheca spp. As such, they represent a promising model to study organellar genome reorganizations in parasitic protists.