Sequencing project to unlock the biotechnological potential of euglenoids

Newswise — The Euglena International Network (EIN) (https://euglenanetwork.org/), founded in 2020, is a global consortium of hundreds of scientists from around the world whose collective goal is to support euglenoid science through collaborative and integrative omics between academia and industry.

The EIN today published a stand in Biology Openoutlining the case for a concerted effort to generate high-quality reference genomes for the approximately 1,000 known species of euglenoids.

Euglenoids are part of the group of protists, which house eukaryotic organisms that do not fit into the groups of animals, plants, or fungi. These diverse single-celled organisms are found in an exceptionally wide range of ecosystems around the world.

Several euglenoid species have very promising translational applications in the production of biofuels, nutraceuticalsbioremediation, cancer treatments, and even as robot design simulators.

Their enormous potential has been largely untapped due to a lack of high-quality reference genomes.

Euglenoid genomes present a particular sequencing challenge because they are an example of secondary endosymbiosis – harboring mitochondria, chloroplasts and remnants of genetic material from organisms that they enveloped to acquire these organelles.

Their enormous potential has been largely untapped due to a lack of high-quality reference genomes.

Euglenoid genomes present a particular sequencing challenge because they are an example of secondary endosymbiosis – harboring mitochondria, chloroplasts and remnants of genetic material from organisms that they enveloped to acquire these organelles.

As a result, less than 20 species have been explored at all levels for translation potential through genomics. The EIN believes that the time has come to address this issue.

By generating high-quality reference genomes for known euglenoid species, the EIN will work to:

– Understand the basic biology of euglenoids

– Understand the evolution of euglenoids

– Maximize the applications of euglenoids in ecological and environmental management

– Explore, translate and market euglenoid products

The data collected by the EIN will be freely accessible to the scientific community via the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA). Once in ENA, annotated genomes can be imported into resources such as Ensembl Protists and presented in a consistent and FAIR way to research communities.

Dr ThankGod Echezona Ebenezer, EIN Founding Chair and Bioinformatician at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), UK, said: “The Euglena International Network will play a crucial role in helping to bring together specialists in euglenoids to increase our understanding of euglenoid biology and its translational applications. This could be useful in furthering our understanding of the evolution of parasitism, social game, develop jet fuelsor support human space exploration”.

Professor Neil Hall, Chairman of the EIN Scientific Committee and Director of the Earlham Institute, said: ‘It is incredibly rare to find an organism so versatile that it has a potential role in food production, the generation of biofuels, robotic engineering and drug development – and there are many more possible applications. Generating reference genomes is the first step to understanding these remarkable organisms so that we can realize their biotechnological potential.

Dr. Masami Nakazawa, EIN Scientific Committee Member and Senior Lecturer at Osaka Metropolitan University, Japan, said: “The EIN has stimulated collaborations in the euglenoid community where I am already involved in exciting projects concerning energy metabolism. Elucidation of unexplored characteristics of euglenoids, including genomic information, will contribute to human well-being through biotechnology in addition to basic science.

Dr Anna Karnkowska, member of the EIN scientific committee and assistant professor at the University of Warsaw, Poland, said: “The unique genomic characteristics and the presence of secondary plastids in euglenoids make them a crucial group for understanding the evolution of eukaryotes and their endosymbiotic. organelles. Genomic data is essential for elucidating the evolutionary history of euglenoids and designing experiments to further explore their biology.”

Dr Eric W. Linton, EIN Scientific Committee Member, Past President of the Phycological Society of America (PSA) and Professor at Central Michigan University, USA, said: “The genomic information we have for euglenoids show their genomes and resulting biochemical/metabolic pathways, in many cases, are made up of genes from a variety of sources such as bacteria, red and green algae. This chimera of a genome can give us rare insight into the evolution, organization and regulation of the genome.

The Euglena International Network is a network affiliated with the Earth BioGenome Project and the International Society of Protistologists.