NEW YORK, Aug. 14 (GenomeWeb News) - Three international teams of researchers have sequenced four separate forms of phytoplankton, believed to be the world's smallest photosynthetic organisms.
Scientists hope that sequencing these single-celled organisms -- three strains of Prochlorococcus and one of closely related Synechococcus - will help studies into global climate change.
The research appears in the Aug. 13 online issues of Natureand the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The researchers said it is important to understand "how, with roughly 2,000 genes, [these organisms] convert solar energy into living biomass," said Sallie (Penny) Chisholm, a biological oceanographer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a study participant.
According to the research, the three Prochlorococcus strains "reveal dynamic genomes that are constantly changing in response to myriad selection pressures." Similarly, the Synechococcus strain, in this case WH8102, showed that the organism lacks the proteins normally associated with movement in bacteria -- yet it can still swim.