The lack of a robust gene transformation tool that allows functional testing of the vast number of nuclear genes in dinoflagellates has greatly hampered our understanding of fundamental biology in this ecologically important and evolutionarily unique lineage. Here we report the development of a dinoflagellate expression vector, an electroporation protocol, and successful expression of introduced genes in the dinoflagellate Oxyrrhis marina. This protocol, involving the use of Lonza's Nucleofector and a codon optimized antibiotic resistance gene, has been successfully used to produce consistent results in several independent experiments. It is anticipated that this protocol will be adaptable for other dinoflagellates and will allow characterization of many novel dinoflagellate genes.
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