Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Origin of photosynthesis revealed: Genome analysis of 'living fossil' sheds light on the evolution of plants

Date:
February 21, 2012
Source:
Rutgers University
Summary:
Evolutionary biologists have shed light on the early events leading to photosynthesis, the result of the sequencing of 70 million base pair nuclear genome of the one-celled alga Cyanophora. They consider this study the final piece of the puzzle to understand the origin of photosynthesis in eukaryotes.

Schematic of Cyanophora paradoxa.
Credit: Courtesy of Bhattacharya Lab.

Atmospheric oxygen really took off on our planet about 2.4 billion years ago during the Great Oxygenation Event. At this key juncture of our planet's evolution, species had either to learn to cope with this poison that was produced by photosynthesizing cyanobacteria or they went extinct. It now seems strange to think that the gas that sustains much of modern life had such a distasteful beginning.

So how and when did the ability to produce oxygen by harnessing sunlight enter the eukaryotic domain, that includes humans, plants, and most recognizable, multicellular life forms? One of the fundamental steps in the evolution of our planet was the development of photosynthesis in eukaryotes through the process of endosymbiosis.

This crucial step forward occurred about 1.6 billion years ago when a single-celled protist captured and retained a formerly free-living cyanobacterium. This process, termed primary endosymbiosis, gave rise to the plastid, which is the specialized compartment where photosynthesis takes place in cells. Endosymbiosis is now a well substantiated theory that explains how cells gained their great complexity and was made famous most recently by the work of the late biologist Lynn Margulis, best known for her theory on the origin of eukaryotic organelles.

In a paper "Cyanophora paradoxa genome elucidates origin of photosynthesis in algae and plants" that appeared this week in the journal Science, an international team led by evolutionary biologist and Rutgers University professor Debashish Bhattacharya has shed light on the early events leading to photosynthesis, the result of the sequencing of 70 million base pair nuclear genome of the one-celled alga Cyanophora.

In the world of plants, "Cyanophora is the equivalent to the lung fish, in that it maintains some primitive characteristics that make it an ideal candidate for genome sequencing," said Bhattacharya.

Bhattacharya and colleagues consider this study "the final piece of the puzzle to understand the origin of photosynthesis in eukaryotes." Basic understanding of much of the subsequent evolution of eukaryotes, including the rise of plants and animals, is emerging from the sequencing of the Cyanophora paradoxa genome, a function-rich species that retains much of the ancestral gene diversity shared by algae and plants.

For those unfamiliar with algae, they include the ubiquitious diatoms that are some of the most prodigious primary producers on our planet, accounting for up to 40% of the annual fixed carbon in the marine environment.

Bhattacharya leads the Rutgers Genome Cooperative that has spread the use of genome methods among university faculty. Using data generated by the Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx in his lab, Bhattacharya, his lab members Dana C. Price, Cheong Xin Chan, Jeferson Gross, Divino Rajah and collaborators from the U.S., Europe and Canada provided conclusive evidence that all plastids trace their origin to a single primary endosymbiosis.

Now that the blueprint of eukaryotic photosynthesis has come more clearly in sight, researchers will be able to figure out not only what unites all algae as plants but also what key features make them different from each other and the genes underlying these functions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. C. Price, C. X. Chan, H. S. Yoon, E. C. Yang, H. Qiu, A. P. M. Weber, R. Schwacke, J. Gross, N. A. Blouin, C. Lane, A. Reyes-Prieto, D. G. Durnford, J. A. D. Neilson, B. F. Lang, G. Burger, J. M. Steiner, W. Loffelhardt, J. E. Meuser, M. C. Posewitz, S. Ball, M. C. Arias, B. Henrissat, P. M. Coutinho, S. A. Rensing, A. Symeonidi, H. Doddapaneni, B. R. Green, V. D. Rajah, J. Boore, D. Bhattacharya. Cyanophora paradoxa Genome Elucidates Origin of Photosynthesis in Algae and Plants. Science, 2012; 335 (6070): 843 DOI: 10.1126/science.1213561

Cite This Page:

Rutgers University. "Origin of photosynthesis revealed: Genome analysis of 'living fossil' sheds light on the evolution of plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221125409.htm>.
Rutgers University. (2012, February 21). Origin of photosynthesis revealed: Genome analysis of 'living fossil' sheds light on the evolution of plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221125409.htm
Rutgers University. "Origin of photosynthesis revealed: Genome analysis of 'living fossil' sheds light on the evolution of plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120221125409.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

AP (July 24, 2014) The U.S. Mint has re-designed the John F. Kennedy half dollar coin to better match the former president's likeness. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Origin of Photosynthesis Revealed by a 'living Fossil'

Feb. 17, 2012 Recently, the complete genome of a glaucophyte alga (Cyanophora paradoxa) has been unraveled by an international ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins