University of Washington researchers sequence genes of haptophytes

In Washington state, University of Washington scientists have sequenced the complete genetic makeup of a haptophyte, an ancient group of algae that evolved in the world’s oceans before our backboned ancestors crawled onto land. They are so numerous that their gigantic blooms can affect the weather, and they account for 30 to 40 percent of all photosynthesis in the world’s oceans.

As they recently reported in the journal PLOS Genetics, it is only the second time that researchers have sequenced the genome of one of these ecologically important and plentiful algae, known as haptophytes. Researchers hope to better understand haptophytes and perhaps transform them into an important new tool for aquaculture, biofuel production and nutrition.

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