The Ectocarpus Genome and Brown Algal Genomics

Brown algae are important organisms both because of their key ecological roles incoastal ecosystems and because of the remarkable biological features that they haveacquired during their unusual evolutionary history. The recent sequencing of thecomplete genome of the filamentous brown alga Ectocarpus has provided unprecedentedaccess to the molecular processes that underlie brown algal biology. Analysis ofthe genome sequence, which exhibits several unusual structural features, identifiedgenes that are predicted to play key roles in several aspects of brown algal metabolism,in the construction of the multicellular bodyplan and in resistance to biotic and abioticstresses. Information from the genome sequence is currently being used in combinationwith other genomic, genetic and biochemical tools to further investigate theseand other aspects of brown algal biology at the molecular level. Here, we review someof the major discoveries that emerged from the analysis of the Ectocarpus genomesequence, with a particular focus on the unusual genome structure, inferences aboutbrown algal evolution and novel aspects of brown algal metabolism.

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