De Novo Transcriptomic Analysis of Hydrogen Production in the Green Alga Chlamydomonas moewusii through RNA-Seq

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Background: Microalgae can make a significant contribution towards meeting global renewable energy needs in both carbon-based and hydrogen (H2) biofuel. The development of energy-related products from algae could be accelerated with improvements in systems biology tools, and recent advances in sequencing technology provide a platform for enhanced transcriptomic analyses. However, these techniques are still heavily reliant upon available genomic sequence data. Chlamydomonas moewusii is a unicellular green alga capable of evolving molecular H2 under both dark and light anaerobic conditions, and has high hydrogenase activity that can be rapidly induced. However, to date, there is no systematic investigation of transcriptomic profiling during induction of H2 photoproduction in this organism. Results: In this work, RNA-Seq was applied to investigate transcriptomic profiles during the dark anaerobic induction of H2 photoproduction. 156 million reads generated from 7 samples were then used for de novo assembly after data trimming. BlastX results against NCBI database and Blast2GO results were used to interpret the functions of the assembled 34,136 contigs, which were then used as the reference contigs for RNA-Seq analysis. Our results indicated that more contigs were differentially expressed during the period of early and higher H2 photoproduction, and fewer contigs were differentially expressed when H2-photoproduction rates decreased. In addition, C. moewusii and C. reinhardtii share core functional pathways, and transcripts for H 2 photoproduction and anaerobic metabolite production were identified in both organisms. C. moewusii also possesses similar metabolic flexibility as C. reinhardtii, and the difference between C. moewusii and C. reinhardtii on hydrogenase expression and anaerobic fermentative pathways involved in redox balancing may explain their different profiles of hydrogenase activity and secreted anaerobic metabolites. Conclusions: Herein, we have described a workflow using commercial software to analyze RNA-Seq data without reference genome sequence information, which can be applied to other unsequenced microorganisms. This study provided biological insights into the anaerobic fermentation and H2 photoproduction of C. moewusii, and the first transcriptomic RNA-Seq dataset of C. moewusii generated in this study also offer baseline data for further investigation (e.g. regulatory proteins related to fermentative pathway discussed in this study) of this organism as a H 2-photoproduction strain.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number118
Number of pages17
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-60226


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