Chlamydomonas

green alga Chlamydomonas

The unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is one of our favorite model organisms for elucidating the detailed functions of genes involved in photosynthesis and photoprotection. Photosynthesis in Chlamydomonas is essentially identical to that in vascular plants, but unlike plants, Chlamydomonas can grow without photosynthesis, even in complete darkness. This ability allows for the isolation of mutants that are impaired in photosynthesis or in the mechanisms that protect the photosynthetic apparatus from photo-oxidative damage. Genetic tools available for Chlamydomonas include replica plating, tetrad analysis, transformation of the nuclear and chloroplast genomes, and CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing. We are analyzing a diverse set of mutants affecting photosynthesis and photoprotection in Chlamydomonas using approaches ranging from genome resequencing to spectroscopy.