Functional 'Omics and Molecular Analysis of a Subtropical Harmful Algal Bloom Species, Karenia brevis

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Book Chapter

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Biological Sciences


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


To better understand the genetic composition, regulation, and functioning of an organism, some studies attempt to exhaustively capture and systematically survey entire classes of molecules, for example, all of the genes (or expressed genes), proteins, lipids, metabolites, etc., from that organism at a given point in time and space. These various ‘omics-related analyses (e.g., genomics to study the genes contained in a genome) ascribe to not only identify the full complement of molecules contained in a sample but also to understand how those molecules are regulated and interact to provide the necessary biological functions of that organism. ‘Omics-based studies initially focused on biomedically important model organisms, but now they are being applied to a myriad of organisms for a multitude of reasons. The study of dinoflagellates is benefiting from the application of these techniques and analyses. This article describes findings surrounding the molecular nature of a particular dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis, which is endemic to the Gulf of Mexico and causes near-yearly harmful algal blooms to one or more coastlines within the Gulf. Initially expressed sequence tag (EST) libraries were constructed for this dinoflagellate as part of functional genomics efforts to investigate facets of this organism’s biology such as why and how it forms blooms, how it produces toxins, how it regulates its growth, and how it interacts with its environment. Except for some ongoing efforts to sequence dinoflagellate genomes, transcriptomic analyses are now supplanting the genomics studies. Proteomic approaches are just beginning to be applied. Previous and up-to-date results using all of these approaches are highlighted that shows how the organism may be sensing its environment and regulating its gene/protein expression and growth accordingly.

Publication Title

Encyclopedia of Environmental Health (Second Edition)

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