<figcaption> Credit: Wenche Eikrem and Jahn Throndsen / University of Oslo</figcaption>
Credit: Wenche Eikrem and Jahn Throndsen / University of Oslo

The paper:

E. Derelle et. al., "Genome analysis of the smallest free-living eukaryote Ostreococcus tauri unveils many unique features," Proc Natl Acad Sci, 103:11647-52, 2006. (Cited in 74 papers)

The study:

French, Belgian, and US scientists sequenced the genome of Ostreococcus tauri, an ancient species of green algae at the base of the green plant lineage and the marine food chain. Its phylogenetic position gave insight into the divergence between plant and animal lineages since it shared gene homologies to both, says Arthur Grossman, at Stanford University, who was not involved in the study.

The surprise:

O. tauri's strikingly compact genome, with just one region of reduplication, contained unexpected evidence of complexity in the form of two heterogenous chromosomes, says Alexandra Worden of Stanford University, an author on the study.

The details:

Two of O. tauri's...

The follow-up:

Comparing the tiny O. tauri genome to O. lucimarinus, an open ocean alga sequenced the following year, and other related species is shedding light on the evolution of environment-specific features such as metabolism.

Genome comparisons
Genome size (Mbp) No. of protein encoding genes Gene density (No. of genes/Mbp)
Ostreococcus tauri 12.56 8,166 650
Saccharomyces cerevisiae 12.15 6,607 543
Arabidopsis thaliana 140 27,000 193

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