PhytoNet: comparative co-expression network analyses across phytoplankton and land plants

Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Jul 2;46(W1):W76-W83. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky298.


Phytoplankton consists of autotrophic, photosynthesizing microorganisms that are a crucial component of freshwater and ocean ecosystems. However, despite being the major primary producers of organic compounds, accounting for half of the photosynthetic activity worldwide and serving as the entry point to the food chain, functions of most of the genes of the model phytoplankton organisms remain unknown. To remedy this, we have gathered publicly available expression data for one chlorophyte, one rhodophyte, one haptophyte, two heterokonts and four cyanobacteria and integrated it into our PlaNet (Plant Networks) database, which now allows mining gene expression profiles and identification of co-expressed genes of 19 species. We exemplify how the co-expressed gene networks can be used to reveal functionally related genes and how the comparative features of PhytoNet allow detection of conserved transcriptional programs between cyanobacteria, green algae, and land plants. Additionally, we illustrate how the database allows detection of duplicated transcriptional programs within an organism, as exemplified by two putative DNA repair programs within Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. PhytoNet is available from

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cyanobacteria / genetics
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Embryophyta / genetics*
  • Embryophyta / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Internet*
  • Photosynthesis / genetics
  • Phytoplankton / genetics*
  • Phytoplankton / physiology
  • Software*
  • Transcriptome