Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 140, Issue 2, pp 173–188 | Cite as

Stable nuclear transformation of rhodophyte species Porphyridium purpureum: advanced molecular tools and an optimized method

  • Binod Prasad
  • Wolfgang Lein
  • General Thiyam
  • Christoph Peter Lindenberger
  • Rainer Buchholz
  • Nithya VadakedathEmail author
Original Article


A mutated phytoene desaturase (pds) gene, pds-L504R, conferring resistance to the herbicide norflurazon has been reported as a dominant selectable marker for the genetic engineering of microalgae (Steinbrenner and Sandmann in Appl Environ Microbiol 72:7477–7484, 2006; Prasad et al. in Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 98(20):8629–8639, 2014). However, this mutated genomic clone harbors several introns and the entire expression cassette including its native promoter and terminator has a length > 5.6 kb, making it unsuitable as a standard selection marker. Therefore, we designed a synthetic, short pds gene (syn-pds-int) by removing introns and unwanted internal restriction sites, adding suitable restriction sites for cloning purposes, and introduced the first intron from the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii RbcS2 gene close to the 5′end without changing the amino acid sequence. The syn-pds-int gene (1872 bp) was cloned into pCAMBIA 1380 under the control of a short sequence (615 bp) of the promoter of pds (pCAMBIA 1380-syn-pds-int). This vector and the plasmid pCAMBIA1380-pds-L504R hosting the mutated genomic pds were used for transformation studies. To broaden the existing transformation portfolio, the rhodophyte Porphyridium purpureum was targeted. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of P. purpureum with both the forms of pds gene, pds-L504R or syn-pds-int, yielded norflurazon-resistant (NR) cells. This is the first report of a successful nuclear transformation of P. purpureum. Transformation efficiency and lethal norflurazon dosage were determined to evaluate the usefulness of syn-pds-int gene and functionality of the short promoter of pds. PCR and Southern blot analysis confirmed transgene integration into the microalga. Both forms of pds gene expressed efficiently as evidenced by the stability, tolerance and the qRT-PCR analysis. The molecular toolkits and transformation method presented here could be used to genetically engineer P. purpureum for fundamental studies as well as for the production of high-value-added compounds.


Porphyridium purpureum Agrobacterium tumefaciens Transformation Phytoene desaturase Norflurazon-resistant 



The authors are thankful to Dr. J. Steinbrenner (Universität Konstanz, Germany) and Prof. Choi PS (Nambu University, South Korea) for kindly providing the plasmid pPLAT-pds-L504R and Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain LBA4404, respectively. The authors also appreciate the funding bodies Korea Institute of Advanced Technology, Korea, and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany for supporting the work. BP also acknowledges Lehrstuhl für Bioverfahrenstechnik, Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen Nuremberg, Germany for the research support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11120_2018_587_MOESM1_ESM.docx (901 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 900 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Bioprocess EngineeringFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Institute for BiotechnologyTechnical University BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of BiotechnologyDongseo UniversityBusanSouth Korea
  4. 4.Institute of Bioprocess EngineeringFriedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen Nuremberg Busan CampusBusanSouth Korea

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