Developmental Epigenomics in Red Algae

Project Leader: Michael Borg

How complex multicellular organisms develop into a multitude of cell types with distinct morphology and function relies on the interplay between both genetic and epigenetic information. While the relationship between the epigenome and cellular differentiation in animals and plants is well understood, its influence on development and reproduction in marine algae is largely unexplored. Our group focuses on red algae, a large and diverse group of marine organisms that form a distinct eukaryotic lineage within the Archaeplastida kingdom. Red algae are characterised by a complex tri-phasic life history and the development of specialised organs that support a sophisticated mode of sexual reproduction that rivals that of higher plants. We would like to understand how this complex life history is molecularly controlled and what role the epigenome plays in transcriptional reprogramming during red algal development. To tackle these questions, we aim to leverage an interdisciplinary approach using cell biology, biochemistry, single cell-omics and comparative evolutionary studies in a burgeoning model organism of red algae.