Simone Zäuner

Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, United States

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Publications (9)45.85 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The limited knowledge we have about red algal genomes comes from the highly specialized extremophiles, Cyanidiophyceae. Here, we describe the first genome sequence from a mesophilic, unicellular red alga, Porphyridium purpureum. The 8,355 predicted genes in P. purpureum, hundreds of which are likely to be implicated in a history of horizontal gene transfer, reside in a genome of 19.7 Mbp with 235 spliceosomal introns. Analysis of light-harvesting complex proteins reveals a nuclear-encoded phycobiliprotein in the alga. We uncover a complex set of carbohydrate-active enzymes, identify the genes required for the methylerythritol phosphate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis, and find evidence of sexual reproduction. Analysis of the compact, function-rich genome of P. purpureum suggests that ancestral lineages of red algae acted as mediators of horizontal gene transfer between prokaryotes and photosynthetic eukaryotes, thereby significantly enriching genomes across the tree of photosynthetic life.
    Nature Communications 06/2013; 4:1941. · 10.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Unicellular marine algae have promise for providing sustainable and scalable biofuel feedstocks, although no single species has emerged as a preferred organism. Moreover, adequate molecular and genetic resources prerequisite for the rational engineering of marine algal feedstocks are lacking for most candidate species. Heterokonts of the genus Nannochloropsis naturally have high cellular oil content and are already in use for industrial production of high-value lipid products. First success in applying reverse genetics by targeted gene replacement makes Nannochloropsis oceanica an attractive model to investigate the cell and molecular biology and biochemistry of this fascinating organism group. Here we present the assembly of the 28.7 Mb genome of N. oceanica CCMP1779. RNA sequencing data from nitrogen-replete and nitrogen-depleted growth conditions support a total of 11,973 genes, of which in addition to automatic annotation some were manually inspected to predict the biochemical repertoire for this organism. Among others, more than 100 genes putatively related to lipid metabolism, 114 predicted transcription factors, and 109 transcriptional regulators were annotated. Comparison of the N. oceanica CCMP1779 gene repertoire with the recently published N. gaditana genome identified 2,649 genes likely specific to N. oceanica CCMP1779. Many of these N. oceanica-specific genes have putative orthologs in other species or are supported by transcriptional evidence. However, because similarity-based annotations are limited, functions of most of these species-specific genes remain unknown. Aside from the genome sequence and its analysis, protocols for the transformation of N. oceanica CCMP1779 are provided. The availability of genomic and transcriptomic data for Nannochloropsis oceanica CCMP1779, along with efficient transformation protocols, provides a blueprint for future detailed gene functional analysis and genetic engineering of Nannochloropsis species by a growing academic community focused on this genus.
    PLoS Genetics 11/2012; 8(11):e1003064. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The red seaweed Porphyra (Bangiophyceae) and related Bangiales have global economic importance. Here we report analysis of a comprehensive transcriptome comprising ca. 4.7 million expressed sequence tag (EST) reads from Porphyra umbilicalis (L.) J. Agardh and Porphyra purpurea (Roth) C. Agardh (ca. 980 Mbp of data generated using 454 FLX pyrosequencing). These ESTs were isolated from the haploid gametophyte (blades from both species) and diploid conchocelis stage (from P. purpurea). In a bioinformatic analysis, only 20% of the contigs were found to encode proteins of known biological function. Comparative analysis of predicted protein functions in mesophilic (including Porphyra) and extremophilic red algae suggest the former has more putative functions related to signaling, membrane transport processes, and establishment of protein complexes. These enhanced functions may reflect general mesophilic adaptations. A near-complete repertoire of genes encoding histones and ribosomal proteins was identified, with some differentially regulated between the blade and conchocelis stage in P. purpurea. This finding may reflect specific regulatory processes associated with these distinct phases of the life history. Fatty acid desaturation patterns, in combination with gene expression profiles, demonstrate differences from seed plants with respect to the transport of fatty acid/lipid among subcellular compartments and the molecular machinery of lipid assembly. We also recovered a near-complete gene repertoire for enzymes involved in the formation of sterols and carotenoids, including candidate genes for the biosynthesis of lutein. Our findings provide key insights into the evolution, development, and biology of Porphyra, an important lineage of red algae.
    Journal of Phycology 08/2012; 48(6):1328-1342. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and other green algae contains hexadeca-4,7,10,13-tetraenoic acid (16:4) in the glycerol sn-2 position. While many genes necessary for the introduction of acyl chain double bonds have been functionally characterized, the Δ4-desaturase remained unknown. Using a phylogenetic comparison, a candidate gene encoding the MGDG-specific Δ4-desaturase from Chlamydomonas (CrΔ4FAD) was identified. CrΔ4FAD shows all characteristic features of a membrane-bound desaturase, including three histidine boxes and a transit peptide for chloroplast targeting. But it also has an N-terminal cytochrome b(5) domain, distinguishing it from other known plastid desaturases. Cytochrome b(5) is the primary electron donor for endoplasmic reticulum (ER) desaturases and is often fused to the desaturase domain in desaturases modifying the carboxyl end of the acyl group. Difference absorbance spectra of the recombinant cytochrome b(5) domain of CrΔ4FAD showed that it is functional in vitro. Green fluorescent protein fusions of CrΔ4FAD localized to the plastid envelope in Chlamydomonas. Interestingly, overproduction of CrΔ4FAD in Chlamydomonas not only increased levels of 16:4 acyl groups in cell extracts but specifically increased the total amount of MGDG. Vice versa, the amount of MGDG was lowered in lines with reduced levels of CrΔ4FAD. These data suggest a link between MGDG molecular species composition and galactolipid abundance in the alga, as well as a specific function for this fatty acid in MGDG.
    Eukaryotic Cell 05/2012; 11(7):856-63. · 3.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Membrane transporters play a central role in many cellular processes that rely on the movement of ions and organic molecules between the environment and the cell, and between cellular compartments. Transporters have been well characterized in plants and green algae, but little is known about transporters or their evolutionary histories in the red algae. Here we examined 482 expressed sequence tag contigs that encode putative membrane transporters in the economically important red seaweed Porphyra (Bangiophyceae, Rhodophyta). These contigs are part of a comprehensive transcriptome dataset from Porphyra umbilicalis and Porphyra purpurea. Using phylogenomics, we identified 30 trees that support the expected monophyly of red and green algae/plants (i.e. the Plantae hypothesis) and 19 expressed sequence tag contigs that show evidence of endosymbiotic/horizontal gene transfer involving stramenopiles. The majority (77%) of analyzed contigs encode transporters with unresolved phylogenies, demonstrating the difficulty in resolving the evolutionary history of genes. We observed molecular features of many sodium-coupled transport systems in marine algae, and the potential for coregulation of Porphyra transporter genes that are associated with fatty acid biosynthesis and intracellular lipid trafficking. Although both the tissue-specific and subcellular locations of the encoded proteins require further investigation, our study provides red algal gene candidates associated with transport functions and novel insights into the biology and evolution of these transporters.
    Plant physiology 02/2012; 158(4):2001-12. · 6.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Like many microalgae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii forms lipid droplets rich in triacylglycerols when nutrient deprived. To begin studying the mechanisms underlying this process, nitrogen (N) deprivation was used to induce triacylglycerol accumulation and changes in developmental programs such as gametogenesis. Comparative global analysis of transcripts under induced and noninduced conditions was applied as a first approach to studying molecular changes that promote or accompany triacylglycerol accumulation in cells encountering a new nutrient environment. Towards this goal, high-throughput sequencing technology was employed to generate large numbers of expressed sequence tags of eight biologically independent libraries, four for each condition, N replete and N deprived, allowing a statistically sound comparison of expression levels under the two tested conditions. As expected, N deprivation activated a subset of control genes involved in gametogenesis while down-regulating protein biosynthesis. Genes for components of photosynthesis were also down-regulated, with the exception of the PSBS gene. N deprivation led to a marked redirection of metabolism: the primary carbon source, acetate, was no longer converted to cell building blocks by the glyoxylate cycle and gluconeogenesis but funneled directly into fatty acid biosynthesis. Additional fatty acids may be produced by membrane remodeling, a process that is suggested by the changes observed in transcript abundance of putative lipase genes. Inferences on metabolism based on transcriptional analysis are indirect, but biochemical experiments supported some of these deductions. The data provided here represent a rich source for the exploration of the mechanism of oil accumulation in microalgae.
    Plant physiology 10/2010; 154(4):1737-52. · 6.56 Impact Factor
  • Simone Zäuner, Philipp Ternes, Dirk Warnecke
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    ABSTRACT: Our knowledge of plant sphingolipid metabolism and function has significantly increased over the past years. This applies mainly to the identification and the functional characterization of genes and enzymes involved in sphingolipid biosynthesis. In addition a number of plant mutants have provided new insights into sphingolipid functions. Very little is still known about intracellular transport, spatial distribution, degradation and signaling functions of sphingolipids. However, combination of Arabidopsis genetics with lipidomics and cell biology will soon bring our understanding of these issues to a new level.
    Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2010; 688:249-63. · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of Delta4-unsaturated sphingolipid long-chain bases such as sphingosine was investigated in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Identification and functional characterization of the sole Arabidopsis ortholog of the sphingolipid Delta4-desaturase was achieved by heterologous expression in Pichia pastoris. A P. pastoris mutant disrupted in the endogenous sphingolipid Delta4-desaturase gene was unable to synthesize glucosylceramides. Synthesis of glucosylceramides was restored by the expression of Arabidopsis gene At4g04930, and these sphingolipids were shown to contain Delta4-unsaturated long-chain bases, confirming that this open reading frame encodes the sphingolipid Delta4-desaturase. At4g04930 has a very restricted expression pattern, transcripts only being detected in pollen and floral tissues. Arabidopsis insertion mutants disrupted in the sphingolipid Delta4-desaturase At4g04930 were isolated and found to be phenotypically normal. Sphingolipidomic profiling of a T-DNA insertion mutant indicated the absence of Delta4-unsaturated sphingolipids in floral tissue, also resulting in the reduced accumulation of glucosylceramides. No difference in the response to drought or water loss was observed between wild-type plants and insertion mutants disrupted in the sphingolipid Delta4-desaturase At4g04930, nor was any difference observed in stomatal closure after treatment with abscisic acid. No differences in pollen viability between wild-type plants and insertion mutants were detected. Based on these observations, it seems unlikely that Delta4-unsaturated sphingolipids and their metabolites such as sphingosine-1-phosphate play a significant role in Arabidopsis growth and development. However, Delta4-unsaturated ceramides may play a previously unrecognized role in the channeling of substrates for the synthesis of glucosylceramides.
    Plant physiology 11/2008; 149(1):487-98. · 6.56 Impact Factor
  • Chemistry and Physics of Lipids - CHEM PHYS LIPIDS. 01/2007; 149.