It’s all about sex with algae research

March 11, 2018 |

In Missouri, researchers from Donald Danforth Plant Science Center studied the earliest stages the evolution of male and female sexes in a group of freshwater photosynthetic protists called volvocine green algae, which could have implications for breeding algae for biofuel applications.

James Umen, Ph.D., a member of the Enterprise Rent-a-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels and was part of the research team said in the press release, “This new study punches a hole in the idea that increased genetic complexity of sex chromosomes accompanied the origin of sexes. Moreover, the work also has practical implications since it expands our understanding of how to identify mating types and sexes in new species of algae that we might want to breed as crops for improved traits relating to biofuel or biotechnology applications.”

Previous studies in animals and plants identified a general trend of expansion and differentiation between male and female sex chromosomes; but these studies could not capture the earliest stages of evolution where distinct sperm and egg cell types first evolved from a simpler ancestral mating system with equal-sized gametes, known as isogamy.

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Category: Research

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