A marine Chlamydomonas sp. emerging as an algal model

J Phycol. 2021 Feb;57(1):54-69. doi: 10.1111/jpy.13083. Epub 2020 Nov 22.


The freshwater microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which lives in wet soil, has served for decades as a model for numerous biological processes, and many tools have been introduced for this organism. Here, we have established a stable nuclear transformation for its marine counterpart, Chlamydomonas sp. SAG25.89, by fusing specific cis-acting elements from its Actin gene with the gene providing hygromycin resistance and using an elaborated electroporation protocol. Like C. reinhardtii, Chlamydomonas sp. has a high GC content, allowing reporter genes and selection markers to be applicable in both organisms. Chlamydomonas sp. grows purely photoautotrophically and requires ammonia as a nitrogen source because its nuclear genome lacks some of the genes required for nitrogen metabolism. Interestingly, it can grow well under both low and very high salinities (up to 50 g · L-1 ) rendering it as a model for osmotolerance. We further show that Chlamydomonas sp. grows well from 15 to 28°C, but halts its growth at 32°C. The genome of Chlamydomonas sp. contains some gene homologs the expression of which is regulated according to the ambient temperatures and/or confer thermal acclimation in C. reinhardtii. Thus, knowledge of temperature acclimation can now be compared to the marine species. Furthermore, Chlamydomonas sp. can serve as a model for studying marine microbial interactions and for comparing mechanisms in freshwater and marine environments. Chlamydomonas sp. was previously shown to be immobilized rapidly by a cyclic lipopeptide secreted from the antagonistic bacterium Pseudomonas protegens PF-5, which deflagellates C. reinhardtii.

Keywords: electroporation; marine Chlamydomonas; microalgae; microbial interactions; nitrogen metabolism; nuclear transformation; salinity; temperature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii* / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas*
  • Pseudomonas

Supplementary concepts

  • Pseudomonas protegens