Multi-omics reveals mechanisms of total resistance to extreme illumination of a desert alga

Haim Treves*, Beata Siemiatkowska, Urszula Luzarowska, Omer Murik, Noe Fernandez-Pozo, Thiago Alexandre Moraes, Alexander Erban, Ute Armbruster, Yariv Brotman, Joachim Kopka, Stefan Andreas Rensing, Jedrzej Szymanski, Mark Stitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The unparalleled performance of Chlorella ohadii under irradiances of twice full sunlight underlines the gaps in our understanding of how the photosynthetic machinery operates, and what sets its upper functional limit. Rather than succumbing to photodamage under extreme irradiance, unique features of photosystem II function allow C. ohadii to maintain high rates of photosynthesis and growth, accompanied by major changes in composition and cellular structure. This remarkable resilience allowed us to investigate the systems response of photosynthesis and growth to extreme illumination in a metabolically active cell. Using redox proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics and lipidomics, we explored the cellular mechanisms that promote dissipation of excess redox energy, protein S-glutathionylation, inorganic carbon concentration, lipid and starch accumulation, and thylakoid stacking. C. ohadii possesses a readily available capacity to utilize a sudden excess of reducing power and carbon for growth and reserve formation, and post-translational redox regulation plays a pivotal role in this rapid response. Frequently the response in C. ohadii deviated from that of model species, reflecting its life history in desert sand crusts. Comparative global and case-specific analyses provided insights into the potential evolutionary role of effective reductant utilization in this extreme resistance of C. ohadii to extreme irradiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1043
Number of pages13
JournalNature Plants
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Human Frontier Science ProgramLT000156/2018


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