A new library of mutants of the single-celled photosynthetic green alga
Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has enabled a team of plant scientists from
Carnegie Institution for Science and Princeton University to identify more
than 300 genes that are potentially required for photosynthesis.
Chlamydomonas is found in fresh and saltwater, moist soil, and even snow.
This group of algae is photosynthetic and readily grow in the lab, even in
darkness if given the right nutrients. The research team created a library
of about 80,000 Chlamydomonas mutants where they identified 303 genes
thought to be involved in photosynthesis. Of these, 65 encode proteins that
were already known to play a role in photosynthesis. The remaining 238 genes
had no previously known role in photosynthesis, making them targets for
further research. Twenty-one of them are considered high-priorities for
The research findings show that nearly half of the genes that are necessary
for plants to create carbohydrates by photosynthesis have not yet been