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Selection-Enriched Genomic Loci (SEGL) Reveals Genetic Loci for Environmental Adaptation and Photosynthetic Productivity in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

By Ben Franklin Lucker, Nicolas Panchy, Joshua Temple, Urs Benning, Jacob Bibik, Peter Neofotis, Joseph Weissman, Ivan Baxter, Shin-Han Shiu, David Mark Kramer

Posted 06 Jul 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.06.451237

This work demonstrates an approach to produce and select hybrid algal strains exhibiting increased photosynthetic productivity under multiple environmental conditions. This simultaneously addresses two major impediments to improving algal bioenergy production: 1) generating new genetic variants with improved performance; and 2) disentangling complex interactions between genetic and physiological factors contributing to these improvements. We pooled progeny generated from mating two environmental isolates of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and cultured the pools under multiple environmental conditions. Strains from the outcompeting populations showed substantial (in some cases over 3 fold) increases in productivity over the parental lines under certain environments related to biomass production, including laboratory conditions as well as hyperoxia, fluctuating light, high salinity and high temperature. The results indicate that C. reinhardtii has remarkable, untapped, directed evolution capacity that may be harnessed using breeding and competition approaches. The populations were deep sequenced at multiple time points to identify "Selection- Enriched Genomic Loci" (SEGL) that accumulated in the populations, and thus likely confer increased fitness under the respective environmental conditions. With improved resolution, SEGL mapping can identify allelic combinations used for targeted breeding approaches, generating elite algal lines with multiple desirable traits, as well as to further understand the genetic and mechanistic bases of photosynthetic productivity.

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