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Claire de Thoisy-Méchin

Press Relations

Tel. +33 (0)1 44 27 23 34

Email: claire.de_thoisy-mechin@upmc.fr


In English:

Katherine Tyrka

International Press Relations

tel. +33 (0)1 44 27 51 05

Email: katherine.tyrka@upmc.fr

Identification of a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" mutation in the brown alga Ectocarpus

The life cycles of many brown algae involve an alternation between two generations, called the sporophyte and the gametophyte. Each of these generations represents a complete and separate multicellular organism.

Genetic analysis of the model brown alga Ectocarpus has recently identified a mutation that causes the sporophyte to develop as a gametophyte (Coelho et al., 2011). This mutation has been called ouroboros after the symbol for the cycle of life. The effect of the ouroboros mutation is similar to that of the so-called homeotic mutations that have been found in many other organisms, such as the antennapedia mutation in the fruit fly for example, which causes the antenna to be converted into legs. The novelty of the ouroborous mutation, however, is that this "homeotic" conversion occurs, not at the organ level, but at the level of the whole organism, causing a Dr. Jekyll-to-Mr. Hyde conversion of the sporophyte into the gametophyte.


Susana M. Coelho, Olivier Godfroy, Alok Arun, Gildas Le Corguillé, Akira F. Peters, and J. Mark Cock (2011) OUROBOROS is a master regulator of the gametophyte to sporophyte life cycle transition in the brown alga Ectocarpus. PNAS 2011; published ahead of print June 27, 2011, doi:10.1073/pnas.1102274108