Comparative transcriptomics, a novel approach to unravel the remarkable morphology and ecology of green seaweeds

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Multicellularity and macroscopic growth have evolved independently several times during the evolution of green seaweeds (Ulvophyceae). This class is indeed characterised by an extraordinary variety in morphologies, including both unicellular and multicellular organisms, siphonous cell structure and multinucleate cells (Leliaert et al. 2012). However, genetic features leading to this morphological diversification remain poorly understood. Comparative transcriptomics and genomics offer a promising approach to unravel differences and similarities in genome composition and expression between different species, providing useful insights on how evolution has shaped genomes and on how this is reflected in different phenotypes and in different organisms. Within this project, we aim to generate transcriptomic data from selected species belonging to the Class Ulvophyceae. We will perform total RNA extraction from different growth and cellular phases of the selected species. We will sequence the transcriptomes with a Next-Generation Sequencing platform (Illumina). We will then perform a de novo assembly of the different transcriptomes from the raw data we have generated with state-of-the-art software (Velvet, MIRA, Trinity, CLC bio, Galaxy pipeline). Therefore, we will perform the comparative expression analysis by generating gene expression profiles and by evaluating the expression conservation between the different species analysed.
basic knowledge molecular biology; interest in algal biology/ecology
Number of students: 
academic year: 
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
Olivier De Clerck
Other people involved: 
Andrea del Cortona (UGent - Phycology) Klaas Van de poele (VIB - Bioinformatics and Systems Biology)
Reference Number: RP-36272