Expansion of phycobilisome linker gene families in mesophilic red algae

Jun Mo Lee, Dongseok Kim, Debashish Bhattacharya, Hwan Su Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The common ancestor of red algae (Rhodophyta) has undergone massive genome reduction, whereby 25% of the gene inventory has been lost, followed by its split into the species-poor extremophilic Cyanidiophytina and the broadly distributed mesophilic red algae. Success of the mesophile radiation is surprising given their highly reduced gene inventory. To address this latter issue, we combine an improved genome assembly from the unicellular red alga Porphyridium purpureum with a diverse collection of other algal genomes to reconstruct ancient endosymbiotic gene transfers (EGTs) and gene duplications. We find EGTs associated with the core photosynthetic machinery that may have played important roles in plastid establishment. More significant are the extensive duplications and diversification of nuclear gene families encoding phycobilisome linker proteins that stabilize light-harvesting functions. We speculate that the origin of these complex families in mesophilic red algae may have contributed to their adaptation to a diversity of light environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4823
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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