Dinoflagellate algae are ecologically and environmentally important, as symbionts of corals and many other aquatic organisms, and the causative agents of red tides. However, attempts over the last twenty years to establish genetic manipulation systems for dinoflagellates have met with little success. We have exploited the unusual chloroplast genome of dinoflagellates to establish a system for transformation of this organelle. The chloroplast genome of peridinin-containing (the ancestral state) dinoflagellates is highly reduced and composed of a number of small, plasmid-like molecules, referred to as ‘minicircles’. We have constructed shuttle vectors that are fusions of minicircles and Escherichia coli plasmids and carry selectable markers. We used biolistic transformation to introduce these into the model dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae. We found that the plasmids confer the expected phenotype on the dinoflagellate cells, and we can detect the plasmid DNA and associated transcripts following selection, indicating successful transformation. This opens up the possibility of studying many aspects of dinoflagellate chloroplast biology, including the maintenance and expression of the minicircles, and the role of the chloroplast in phenomena such as coral bleaching.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Most cited this month Most Cited RSS feed

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error