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Rubisco and carbon-concentrating mechanism co-evolution across chlorophyte and streptophyte green algae

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>New Phytologist
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)810-823
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/05/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Green algae expressing a carbon‐concentrating mechanism (CCM) are usually associated with a Rubisco‐containing micro‐compartment, the pyrenoid. A link between the small subunit (SSU) of Rubisco and pyrenoid formation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has previously suggested that specific RbcS residues could explain pyrenoid occurrence in green algae.
A phylogeny of RbcS was used to compare the protein sequence and CCM distribution across the green algae and positive selection in RbcS was estimated. For six streptophyte algae, Rubisco catalytic properties, affinity for CO2 uptake (K0.5), carbon isotope discrimination (δ13C) and pyrenoid morphology were compared.
The length of the βA–βB loop in RbcS provided a phylogenetic marker discriminating chlorophyte from streptophyte green algae. Rubisco kinetic properties in streptophyte algae have responded to the extent of inducible CCM activity, as indicated by changes in inorganic carbon uptake affinity, δ13C and pyrenoid ultrastructure between high and low CO2 conditions for growth.
We conclude that the Rubisco catalytic properties found in streptophyte algae have coevolved and reflect the strength of any CCM or degree of pyrenoid leakiness, and limitations to inorganic carbon in the aquatic habitat, whereas Rubisco in extant land plants reflects more recent selective pressures associated with improved diffusive supply of the terrestrial environment.