Abiotic Stress Tolerance of Charophyte Green Algae: New Challenges for Omics Techniques.

Charophyte green algae are a paraphyletic group of freshwater and terrestrial green algae, comprising the classes of Chlorokybophyceae, Coleochaetophyceae, Klebsormidiophyceae, Zygnematophyceae, Mesostigmatophyceae, and Charo- phyceae. Zygnematophyceae (Conjugating green algae) are considered to be closest algal relatives to land plants (Embryophyta). Therefore, they are ideal model organisms for studying stress tolerance mechanisms connected with transition to land, one of the most important events in plant evolution and the Earth’s history. In Zygnematophyceae, but also in Coleochaetophyceae, Chlorokybophyceae, and Klebsormidiophyceae terrestrial members are found which are frequently exposed to naturally occurring abiotic stress scenarios like desiccation, freezing and high photosynthetic active (PAR) as well as ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. Here, we summarize current knowledge about various stress tolerance mechanisms including insight provided by pioneer transcriptomic and proteomic studies. While formation of dormant spores is a typical strategy of freshwater classes, true terrestrial groups are stress tolerant in vegetative state. Aggregation of cells, flexible cell walls, mucilage production and accumulation of osmotically active compounds are the most common desiccation tolerance strategies. In addition, high photophysiological plasticity and accumulation of UV-screening compounds are important protective mechanisms in conditions with high irradiation. Now a shift from classical chemical analysis to next-generation genome sequencing, gene reconstruction and annotation, genome-scale molecular analysis using omics technologies followed by computer-assisted analysis will give new insights in a systems biology approach. For example, changes in transcriptome and role of phytohormone signaling in Klebsormidium during desiccation were recently described. Application of these modern approaches will deeply enhance our understanding of stress reactions in an unbiased non-targeted view in an evolutionary context.

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