Saltwater algae genes could help engineer plants that survive in regions with high water salinity

Credit: Jason Hall-Spencer
Credit: Jason Hall-Spencer

Researchers from New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), in partnership with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), have uncovered different viruses from the genome of saltwater algae that could be the tool for the development of bio-saline agriculture in regions that have high salinity in their water.

The researchers have found that algae from saltwater such as Chlorovirus, Coccolithovirus, Pandoravirus, Marseillevirus, Tupanvirus, and others have significantly more genes in their genomes compared to algae found in freshwater. These saltwater viruses are responsible for the maintenance of nuclear and cellular membrane integrity in a saline environment.

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This genomic information could serve as a guide for future bioengineering efforts for the development of plant strains that can adapt and grow in saltwater and help alleviate problems in food security in regions that have high water salinity.

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