A team around XU Jian at CAS Qingdao Institute of BioEnergy and Environmental Biotechnology has developed genetic tools based on CRISPR/Cas technology to prepare a minimal genome variant of the marina algae Microcystis aeruginosa. They deleted a targeted 214 Kb, containing 52 genes, on chromosomes 30 and 9. Using single-cell phenotyping tools such as Ramanomics, the researchers found that despite these large chromosome excisions, key traits such as growth rate, biomass, potential maximum photosynthetic rate, non-photochemical burst of chlorophyll fluorescence, lipid content and fatty acid unsaturation were barely affected. These findings suggest that a “minimal algal genome” may be constructed through such chromosomal surgery.
CAS news release, March 31, 2021