Tag Archive | lipids

Determining Nannochloropsis cell wall and more

cell_wall_schemeNannochloropsis’ whole cells were recently analysed using 13C-SS-NMR spectroscopy (reference n 1). Cells were grown autotrophically in a sodium [13C] bicarbonate environment and harvested during the exponential phase.

Quantitative spectra of 13C labelled cells of Nannochloropsis oculata were analysed for resonance picks which are characteristic of carbohydrates and lipids, thus providing, among other interesting observations, useful insights on the cell wall composition of the microalga.

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New data on lipid accumulation in Nannochloropsis

We have already discussed in a previous post two possible models of cellular metabolism that can account for oil accumulationmicoralgae's oil and that are in agreement with the profile of transcript and protein abundance in Nannochloropsis‘ cultures that accumulate lipids. New experimental data became recently available for the scientific community concerning this issue. Jing Li and coworkers  performed a time course experiment, tracking simultaneously transcript abundance and lipid content of Nannochloropsis cultures grown in N sufficient (+N) and N depleted (-N) media. The data and their analysis were published on Plant Cell (doi: http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1105/​tpc.​113.​121418). Full reference is reported at the end of this post (reference n 1).

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Proteomics and transcriptomics findings on lipids accumulation in Nannochloropsis

Confocal microscopy image of Nannochloropsis cell grown in nitrogen deprivation. Lipid droplets are in yellow and chloroplast is in red. From "Going ultradeep to unravel the secret recipe of biofuel" Elisa Corteggiani Carpienelli

Confocal microscopy image of Nannochloropsis cell grown in nitrogen deprivation. Lipid droplets are in yellow and chloroplast is in red. From “Going ultra deep to unravel the secret recipe of biofuel” by Elisa Corteggiani Carpinelli

What is the mechanism by which Nannochloropsis cells synthesise and accumulate lipids in certain culturing conditions? And moreover is there a key control that we can manipulate to improve lipid yields and overcome the tradeoff between lipid production and growth? This is probably the “holy grail” of Nannochloropsis research. The general feeling is that we do not have an answer yet, but at least we have some clues to start our quest.

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Nannochloropsis genomes, what have we learnt?


Schematic representation of Nannochloropsis cell by Andrea Telatin

Thanks to the sequencing of the genomes of two strains of  Nannochloropsis gaditana [1][2] and two strains of Nannochloropsis oceanica [3][4] we now have the reference sequences to design molecular biology experiments on this microorganism. Moreover we have learnt a great deal of information, opened up new interrogatives .. and more will come analysing the data available though this portal and through the other web resources: N. gaditana CCMP526 genome and N. oceanica CCMP1779 genome.

Nannochloropsis genome is small, about 28-29 Mega bases, and very compact: there is on average 1 gene each 2.7 kilo bases in N. gaditana B-31, the genes are long on average 1.2 kilo bases and they contain very few introns.

The proteins predicted in the two species are in large part similar, about 80% of the proteins of each species are found in clusters of homologous proteins, ~60% of which accomodate proteins common to the two species. Further studies will help ruling out the limits and the  inaccuracies of the gene predictions allowing to focus on the actual differences between the two species.

The pathways leading to the synthesis of cellulose and sulfated fucans and to the remodelling of cellulose in the cell wall have been identified both in N. gaditana and in N. oceanica, casting a light on the molecular composition of the cell wall and suggesting possible targets of genetic modification.

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