Porphyra is a common red seaweed found in the intertidal zone throughout the world. In addition to its important role in coastal ecosystems, Porphyra and the closely related genus Pyropia are important food crops in parts of the world (e.g. laver, nori). MBA researchers have been involved in analysing the genome sequence of Porphyra umbilicalis as part of an international consortium aiming to understand more about this seaweed and the evolution of the red algae. The research, led by Prof Susan Brawley (University of Maine), demonstrates that Porphyra contains many unique features that allow it to survive in the intertidal zone. In particular, the MBA team identified that the mechanisms used by Porphyra to sense its environment are unique to red algae and appear to differ considerably from those in the green algae. The results therefore not only tell us more about the ecology and physiology of Porphyra, but also help to identify fundamental physiological differences between green and red algal lineages..
Susan H. Brawley, Nicolas A. Blouin, Elizabeth Ficko-Blean, Glen L. Wheeler, Martin Lohr, Holly V. Goodson, Jerry W. Jenkins, Crysten E. Blaby-Haas, Katherine E. Helliwell, Cheong Xin Chan, Tara N. Marriage, Debashish Bhattacharya, Anita S. Klein, Yacine Badis, Juliet Brodie, Yuanyu Cao, Jonas Collén, Simon M. Dittami, Claire M. M. Gachon, Beverley R. Green, Steven J. Karpowicz, Jay W. Kim, Ulrich Johan Kudahl, Senjie Lin, Gurvan Michel, Maria Mittag, Bradley J. S. C. Olson, Jasmyn L. Pangilinan, Yi Peng, Huan Qiu, Shengqiang Shu, John T. Singer, Alison G. Smith, Brittany N. Sprecher, Volker Wagner, Wenfei Wang, Zhi-Yong Wang, Juying Yan, Charles Yarish, Simone Zäuner-Riek, Yunyun Zhuang, Yong Zou, Erika A. Lindquist, Jane Grimwood, Kerrie W. Barry, Daniel S. Rokhsar, Jeremy Schmutz, John W. Stiller, Arthur R. Grossman, and Simon E. Prochnik
PNAS 2017, doi:10.1073/pnas.1703088114