Genomes and Transcriptomes of Arctic Chromists (GTAC)

Principal Investigator: Connie Lovejoy
Theme : Environment
Competition : Québec Vert Competition
Status : In progress
Start : Jan. 1, 2012
Budget : $100,000.00

Genomics for the Arctic environment.The extreme seasonality and number of freezing days in the Arctic limits the distribution and overall productivity of plants and at high latitudes, much of the annual production is by single celled golden, red, or brown microalgae called chromists. Arctic marine food webs are supported by these microalgae. These small photosynthetic cells can be planktonic (phytoplankton), benthic or ice associated, living in brine channels of sea ice or in surface melt water ponds on multiyear ice and ice selves. They also live in lakes and ponds of Northern Québec. Many of these microalgae are not related to land plants and there is little understanding of how they are adapted to the environments in which they are found.

This project will investigate the genetic code of these microalgae by first sequencing the genomes of five carefully selected, very different species that are as genetically distinct from each other as are bears to blueberries. Pr. Lovejoy and her team will also experimentally grow the microalgae under different conditions and examine their transcriptomes, to study proteins used for normal growth and cell protection when conditions change. From this information the team will deduce what genes to look for in the environment to measure the health of Québecs cold water ecosystems. The goal of this project will be to develop the tools to predict how the changing physical environment will influence metabolic conversions of carbon and energy in the biosphere.