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Genome Signatures Enable Tracking of Algal Complexity




























On the long and difficult road toward a carbon-neutral source of transportation fuels, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is pursuing a diversified approach. This effort involves exploring a range of potential new fuel sources in nature: from plants that may serve as cellulosic feedstocks—fast-growing trees and perennial grasses on land—to oil-producing organisms in aquatic and other environments, such as algae and bacteria.

One contribution that may inform biofuels research is reported in the July 9 issue of Science, where researchers led by the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Salk Institute present the 138 million nucleotide genome of Volvox carteri, a multicellular alga that captures light energy through photosynthesis. The DOE is supporting research into the complex mechanisms present in photosynthetic organisms to better understand how they convert sunlight to energy and how photosynthetic cells control their metabolic processes so that this information can inform the production of renewable biofuels.
 
 

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