AMES, Iowa -- Martin H. Spalding, professor and chair of the department of genetics, development and cell biology at Iowa State, is part of an international research team whose work will be published in the Oct. 12 issue of the journal Science.
The researchers sequenced and annotated the genome of the green algae chlamydomonas, a single-celled alga that has traits from both animals and plants.
"There may be lots of uses that come out of this, including basic bio-medical research, agricultural research, understanding certain diseases, learning more about photosynthesis, photosynthetic hydrogen production and many other areas," said Spalding.
Sequencing and annotating the genome took more than four years. Spalding's part of the research focused on his specialty, metabolism.
The chlamydomonas organism was chosen to be sequenced for several reasons.
It is a bridging species connecting back to when plants and animals began their evolutionary separation, so it contains traits of both. It produces chlorophyll and also flagella to help it move.
Another reason the alga was sequenced is that it is both a simple organism and a classic genetic model organism.
"It is such a simple system with a single-cell and straight-forward genetics," said Spalding.
The project entailed sequencing the organism's 120 million nucleotides, as well as decoding the nucleotide sequence to identify the approximately 15,000 proteins coded by the genome.
Spalding hopes that further positive research will result from this work.
"It will be available for anyone to access," said Spalding, "and there may be lots of uses that we don't know yet."