This study proposes an integrated, collaborative program that relies on expertise in Alexandrium tamarense molecular evolution, genomics, physiology, ecology, and toxicity. It will produce a valuable molecular resource for scientists working to understand the ecology and toxicity of Alexandrium tamarense and other Harmful algal bloom (HAB) species and will provide insights into the unique genome of these fascinating, evolutionarily, and economically important, yet understudied protists. This project aims to identify the key cellular processes involved in Harmful algal blooms (HABs), or commonly called "red tides".
Identify genes involved in the development and maintenance of Alexandrium tamarense blooms, specifically those involved in the assimilation of organic nutrients and inorganic nutrients, the process of photosynthesis, the production of toxins, and the cell division cycle.
Identify key genes involved in the termination of Alexandrium tamarense blooms, specifically those regulated in response to nutrient limitation, and during the transition from vegetative growth to the sexual cycle that results in resting stage formation.
What are the expressed genes during times of maximal toxin production? How is the expression of nuclear−encoded, plastid−targeted proteins coordinated in Alexandrium tamarense given the extreme degree of plastid genome reduction and gene transfer to the nucleus that has occurred in this species?
These questions have broad biological and evolutionary significance and their answers will benefit a wide array of scientists working in diverse fields such as the ecology and biology of dinoflagellates, toxin production in Harmful algal bloom (HAB) species, evolution of photosynthesis, and genome evolution. These data will be a powerful tool for understanding how gene expression is regulated in an organism with a nuclear organization that is so different from typical eukaryotes.