UMMS Affiliation

Program in Systems Biology; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Publication Date


Document Type



Algae | Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Genetics | Genomics | Molecular Genetics


Dinoflagellates are main primary producers in the oceans, the cause of algal blooms and endosymbionts of marine invertebrates. Much remains to be understood about their biology, including their peculiar crystalline chromosomes. We assembled 94 chromosome-scale scaffolds of the genome of the coral endosymbiont Symbiodinium microadriaticum and analyzed their organization. Genes are enriched towards the ends of chromosomes and are arranged in alternating unidirectional blocks. Some chromosomes are enriched for genes involved in specific biological processes. The chromosomes fold as linear rods and each is composed of a series of structural domains separated by boundaries. Domain boundaries are positioned at sites where transcription of two gene blocks converges and disappear when cells are treated with chemicals that block transcription, indicating correlations between gene orientation, transcription and chromosome folding. The description of the genetic and spatial organization of the S. microadriaticum genome provides a foundation for deeper exploration of the extraordinary biology of dinoflagellates and their chromosomes.


Genomics, Epigenomics

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Nand A, Zhan Y, Salazar OR, Aranda M, Voolstra CR, Dekker J. Genetic and spatial organization of the unusual chromosomes of the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium microadriaticum. Nat Genet. 2021 May;53(5):618-629. doi: 10.1038/s41588-021-00841-y. Epub 2021 Apr 29. PMID: 33927399; PMCID: PMC8110479. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nature genetics

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PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.