Systematic characterization of gene function in the photosynthetic alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Friedrich Fauser, Josep Vilarrasa-Blasi, Masayuki Onishi, Silvia Ramundo, Weronika Patena, Matthew Millican, Jacqueline Osaki, Charlotte Philp, Matthew Nemeth, Patrice A. Salomé, Xiaobo Li, Setsuko Wakao, Rick G. Kim, Yuval Kaye, Arthur R. Grossman, Krishna K. Niyogi, Sabeeha S. Merchant, Sean R. Cutler, Peter Walter, José R. DinnenyMartin C. Jonikas, Robert E. Jinkerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Most genes in photosynthetic organisms remain functionally uncharacterized. Here, using a barcoded mutant library of the model eukaryotic alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, we determined the phenotypes of more than 58,000 mutants under more than 121 different environmental growth conditions and chemical treatments. A total of 59% of genes are represented by at least one mutant that showed a phenotype, providing clues to the functions of thousands of genes. Mutant phenotypic profiles place uncharacterized genes into functional pathways such as DNA repair, photosynthesis, the CO2-concentrating mechanism and ciliogenesis. We illustrate the value of this resource by validating phenotypes and gene functions, including three new components of an actin cytoskeleton defense pathway. The data also inform phenotype discovery in land plants; mutants in Arabidopsis thaliana genes exhibit phenotypes similar to those we observed in their Chlamydomonas homologs. We anticipate that this resource will guide the functional characterization of genes across the tree of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-714
Number of pages10
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


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