Titled “Pan genome of the phytoplankton Emiliania drives its global distribution“, the paper compares the reference genome of one strain of Emiliana huxleyi to sequences from 13 other strains. The scientists found a pan genome composed of a set of core genes, along with genes that were unequally distributed between different strains. The findings indicate extensive genome variability and demonstrate that E. huxleyi, which has long been considered a single species, harbours extensive genome variability reflected in different metabolic repertoires.
The findings also underpin the capacity of E. huxleyi to thrive both in habitats ranging from the equator to the subarctic and to form large-scaleepisodic blooms under a wide variety of environmental conditions.Betsy A. Read, et al “Pan genome of the phytoplankton Emiliania drives its global distribution” Nature doi:10.1038/nature12221
The reference genome of a marine phytoplankton called Emiliania huxleyi is reported this week in Nature. E. huxleyi has a direct influence on the global carbon cycle, and the genomic plasticity of this species may provide insight into speciation and how organisms adapt to global climate change.
E. huxleyi can thrive in a range of dramatically different habitats, and have the capacity to form large-scale blooms from the equator to the subarctic. By comparing the reference genome of one strain of E. huxleyi to sequences from 13 other strains, Betsy Read and colleagues found a pan genome composed of a set of core genes, along with genes that were unequally distributed between different strains. The findings indicate extensive genome variability reflected in different metabolic repertoires, explaining in part how E. huxleyi has adapted to a wide variety of environments. E. huxleyi was thought to be a single species, but the high level of diversity uncovered in this study indicates a single strain is unlikely to be typical or representative of all strains.