CharKeyS: Charophyte key genome sequencing


Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG)

Applicant: Stefan Rensing (University Marburg)

Co-applicants: Anja Holzhausen, Hendrik Schubert (University Rostock), Noe Fernandez-Pozo (University Marburg), Klaus von Schwartzenberg (university Hamburg)

project employee: Hermann Finke (University Marburg)


The Phragmoplastophyta comprise all land plants and three lineages of charophyte algae, the Zygnematophyceae, Coleochaetophyceae and Charophyceae. Key evolutionary events in these sister lineages to land plants led to the singular terrestrialization event - the dawn of plant life on earth. Interest in these organisms is at an all-time high, as exemplified by the recent publication of the Chara braunii genome in Cell (Nishiyama et al. 2018). However, our progress in understanding these algal lineages is hampered by the lack of established model organisms and genome sequences beyond C. braunii that enable comparative genomics approaches. Model establishment is currently tackled by our DFG funded collaborative project CharMod. This project aims to sequence the genomes of the two model organisms. Charophyte algae have been coined “evolutionary giants and emerging model organisms” (Domozych et al. 2016) and their potential for comparative genomics and inference of ancestral plant traits attracts more and more attention. The high-quality genome sequences will hence greatly aid comparative genomics and evo-devo approaches that aim to understand the evolution of land plants.