Research > Research Projects
Dr CHEANG Chi Chiu - Mitogenomic sequencing of major members of the marine red algal class Florideophyceae (Rhodophyta) in Hong Kong.
Chief Investigator:

Dr CHEANG Chi Chiu

Project Year:



Marine red algae, phylum Rhodophyta, are ecologically and economically important organisms. They were hypothesized to be a critical transitional stage between plant and animal in the evolution. The ecology and phylogeny (how closely related the different algae are) of these important organisms, however, have not been well understood. The elucidation of the phylogeny and the systematic classification of the red algae could provide important information and insights for their conservation and sustainable use, as well as their role in linking the evolution of animal and plant. The systematic classification of the red algae has long been hampered by their simple but largely variable morphology. With the recent advance of biotechnology on DNA phylogenetic studies, we could decipher more information on the classification of the algae. Inherent restrictions, however, were there of genealogical genetic markers, which is based on the comparison of how similar the genetic information (sequence) among different algae, to reveal the taxonomy in the higher taxonomic level, e.g. ordinal classification. The proposed study aims at using gene order information (the arrangement of the genes) of the genome of an organelle, mitochondrion (mitogenome), which is an independent genetic marker in contrary to genealogical markers, to elucidate the classification of red algae in ordinal level. With the complete mitogenomic information, insights on the role of the Rhodophyta as the linkage between the evolution of animal and plant could be gained. In addition, based on the genetic information revealed, we could develop more informative genetic markers for subsequent studies on phylogeny and phylogeography of red algae. These studies, which are for the determination of relationship among different algae or of the same alga among different geographical region, will benefit our understanding on the evolution as well as the conservation and sustainable use of this important marine organism.