A team led by Princeton University researchers has constructed a public "library" to help researchers find out what each plant gene does in the process of photosynthesis. Using the library, the team identified 303 genes associated with photosynthesis, including 21 newly discovered genes with high potential to provide new insights into this life-sustaining biological process. The library, funded in large part through a grant from the National Science Foundation, consists of thousands of single-celled, pond-dwelling algae known as Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, or Chlamy for short. Each "book" in the library is a strain of Chlamy with a single mutation. The 62,000-plus mutant strains, housed at the University of Minnesota's Chlamydomonas Resource Center, cover more than 80 percent of Chlamy's genes. The mutant library can enable studies in other areas of plant biology, such as intracellular communication and Chlamy's ability to paddle around its environment using a tail-like cilium. Similar libraries have been made in other single-celled organisms, such as yeast, but this is the first such endeavor for any single-celled photosynthetic organism. The rapid growth of single-celled organisms make them valuable research tools.
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