Genomic imprints of unparalleled growth

Omer Murik*, Or Geffen, Yoram Shotland, Noe Fernandez-Pozo, Kristian Karsten Ullrich, Dirk Walther, Stefan Andreas Rensing, Haim Treves*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chlorella ohadii was isolated from desert biological soil crusts, one of the harshest habitats on Earth, and is emerging as an exciting new green model for studying growth, photosynthesis and metabolism under a wide range of conditions. Here, we compared the genome of C. ohadii, the fastest growing alga on record, to that of other green algae, to reveal the genomic imprints empowering its unparalleled growth rate and resistance to various stressors, including extreme illumination. This included the genome of its close relative, but slower growing and photodamage sensitive, C. sorokiniana UTEX 1663. A larger number of ribosome-encoding genes, high intron abundance, increased codon bias and unique genes potentially involved in metabolic flexibility and resistance to photodamage are all consistent with the faster growth of C. ohadii. Some of these characteristics highlight general trends in Chlorophyta and Chlorella spp. evolution, and others open new broad avenues for mechanistic exploration of their relationship with growth. This work entails a unique case study for the genomic adaptations and costs of exceptionally fast growth and sheds light on the genomic signatures of fast growth in photosynthetic cells. It also provides an important resource for future studies leveraging the unique properties of C. ohadii for photosynthesis and stress response research alongside their utilization for synthetic biology and biotechnology aims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1144-1160
Number of pages17
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2024


FundersFunder number
Junta de Andalucia EmergiaEMERGIA20_00286
Technion Genome Center
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Israel Science Foundation1697/22


    • Chlorophyta
    • algal evolution
    • codon bias
    • growth rate
    • introns


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