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Phylogenomics and genome characterization of freshwater red algae of the order Batrachospermales (Rhodophyta)


Currently, available information on the genomic organization of the freshwater red algae of the order Batrachospermales is sparse, and the infra-ordinal classification of representatives of this order is not well resolved. The project proposes phylogenomic analysis and genomic characterization of plastid genomes of this group of red algae. The generated results will allow to test the following hypotheses: 1) Batrachospermales genomes will be highly conserved, in agreement with other members of Florideophyceae in general and most particularly of Nemaliophycidae; other characteristics should be found, such as large genomes with a high number of protein-encoding genes, both within the reported range for Florideophyceae and more similar to the nearest groups like Nemaliales; 2) the currently available data do not make it possible to define distinct clades within the order, which is why only one family is recognized in the current scheme; phylogenomic analyses will reveal two or more well-supported groups, which associated with vegetative and reproductive morphological characteristics, will allow a new and improved rearrangement of genera and families; 3) the inclusion of larger number of Batrachospermales taxa in the analyses will allow a better understanding of the phylogenetic relationships between the orders Batrachospermales, Thoreales and Balbianiales within the subclass Nemaliophycidae. To test these hypotheses, the following objectives are proposed: (i) to describe the characteristics of plastid genomes of key genera and species in order and comparison with the genomes of other red algae groups; ii) infer the phylogenetic relations between these members, in order to clarify the infra-ordinal classification; iii) apply the data to raise possible explanations for the transition from marine to freshwater habitats. The proposed study raises aspects of great relevance: a) It is a broad investigation of phylogenomics and genomic characterization of the most representative group of freshwater rhodophytes; 2) it will provide valuable insights for comparative phylogenomic analyses of the order Batrachospermales with other groups of Rhodophyta, especially Nemaliophycidae; this will make it possible to refine phylogenetic relationships within the subclass; 3) it will provide a good dataset for more general appraisal on the transition from marine to freshwater environments for members of the order, as well as the possible relationships with other exclusively freshwater orders with already sequenced genomes (Balbianiales and Thoreales). (AU)

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