We are generating an extensive database (the ‘SexSeaweed Database’) with reproductive and developmental traits information across the brown algae, and we are complementing this database with genomic and epigenetic information gathered in on-going projects in our group and collaborators.
A time-resolved comprehensive analysis of relative mRNA expression levels is an important step towards understanding the regulatory processes governing development in a multicellular lineage, but we totally lack this information for the brown algae. We are generating a time-resolved systematic assessment of the transcriptional events during several stages of development across a range of brown algae with different sexual systems and levels of morphological complexity.
In eukaryotes, the transcriptional programs involved in development are to a large extent governed by profound higher-order reorganisation which appears to be part of "chromatin reprogramming" windows that combine local changes in chromatin composition with prominent changes in nuclear organization. The multidimensional analysis of gene expression delivered by SEA is being complemented with an analysis of the chromatin landscape in order to investigate the role played by chromatin reprogramming in sex-specific developmental programs. This resource is being used in our research programs but also will be a valuable tool for the research community interested in the evolution of chromatin across eukaryotes.
Recent work in our previous group in Roscoff, coordinated by Mark Cock and in collaboration with colleagues at Hokaido University has allowed the development of CRISPR/Cas9 approaches for gene knockout in Ectocarpus (Badis et al. in preparation). Current work in the Department includes the development of protocols for CRISPR-Cas9 knockouts for the analysis of gene function in other brown algal species. We develop these protocols together with Yacine Badis and Mark Cock (Station Biologique de Roscoff), Taizo Motomura and Chikako Nagasato (Hokkaido University). Development of transfection protocols for algae is also performed in the context of the Moore Foundation Developing Genetic Tools for Seaweed-bacterial Symbiosis Models project.