Nature, nurture and the structure of macroalgal genomes

The recent acquisition and analysis of completegenome sequences for two macroalgal species hasprovided unparalleled insights into the biology andevolutionary history of these important organisms.The recently published genome sequence of thefilamentous brown alga Ectocarpus siliculosus(Cock et al., Nature 2010) has not only providedclues as to how brown alga have adapted to theharsh conditions of the intertidal, but has alsoallowed the generation of hypotheses about themolecular events underlying the evolution of complexmulticellular development in this group oforganisms. The more recently completed genomesequence of the red alga Chondrus crispus (Colleet al., unpublished) has similarly provided importantinformation about the origins and the biologyof the red algae. Both Ectocarpus and Chondrus arefound in the intertidal zone, but they have had verydifferent evolutionary histories and have been evolvingindependently for more than a billion years.Interestingly, they also exhibit very marked differencesin terms of genome structure and organisation,suggesting that their evolutionary historieshave played a more important role in shapingtheir genomes than their adaptation to the intertidalenvironment.

Cock, M., Colle, J., Sterck, L., Rouzé, P., Scornet, D., Anthouard, V., Artiguenave, F., Aury, J., Billiau, K., Bonnet, E., H.F. Bothwell, J., Brillet, L., Carre, W., Coelho, S.M., Corre, E., Da Silva, C., Jubin, C., Martens, C., Maumus, F., Miranda-Saavedra, D., Peters, S., Porcel, B., Quesneville, H., Boyen, C., Van de Peer, Y., Wincker, P. (2011) Nature, nurture and the structure of macroalgal genomes. Eur. J. Phycol. 46,39-39.

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