Genome analyses provide insights into the evolution and adaptation of the eukaryotic Picophytoplankton Mychonastes homosphaera


Picophytoplankton are abundant and can contribute greatly to primary production in eutrophic lakes. Mychonastes species are among the common eukaryotic picophytoplankton in eutrophic lakes. We used third-generation sequencing technology to sequence the whole genome of Mychonastes homosphaera isolated from Lake Chaohu, a eutrophic freshwater lake in China.


The 24.23 Mbp nuclear genome of M.homosphaera, harboring 6649 protein-coding genes, is more compact than the genomes of the closely related Sphaeropleales species. This genome streamlining may be caused by a reduction in gene family number, intergenic size and introns. The genome sequence of M.homosphaera reveals the strategies adopted by this organism for environmental adaptation in the eutrophic lake. Analysis of cultures and the protein complement highlight the metabolic flexibility of M.homosphaera, the genome of which encodes genes involved in light harvesting, carbohydrate metabolism, and nitrogen and microelement metabolism, many of which form functional gene clusters. Reconstruction of the bioenergetic metabolic pathways of M.homosphaera, such as the lipid, starch and isoprenoid pathways, reveals characteristics that make this species suitable for biofuel production.


The analysis of the whole genome of M. homosphaera provides insights into the genome streamlining, the high lipid yield, the environmental adaptation and phytoplankton evolution.



Changqing Liu, Xiaoli Shi, Fan Wu, Mingdong Ren, Guang Gao & Qinglong Wu. 2020. BMC Genomics. DOI: