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A phenotypic screening platform to identify small molecule modulators of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii growth, motility and photosynthesis

Simon E Alfred123, Anuradha Surendra124, Chris Le1, Ken Lin1, Alexander Mok1, Iain M Wallace16, Michael Proctor5, Malene L Urbanus14, Guri Giaever134 and Corey Nislow123*

Author Affiliations

1 Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto, 160 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E1, Canada

2 Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, University of Toronto, 112 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1L6, Canada

3 Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 1A8, Canada

4 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toronto, 144 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3M2, Canada

5 Stanford Genome Technology Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA

6 Novartis, 250 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge 02139, USA

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Genome Biology 2012, 13:R105  doi:10.1186/gb-2012-13-11-r105

Published: 18 November 2012


Chemical biology, the interfacial discipline of using small molecules as probes to investigate biology, is a powerful approach of developing specific, rapidly acting tools that can be applied across organisms. The single-celled alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is an excellent model system because of its photosynthetic ability, cilia-related motility and simple genetics. We report the results of an automated fitness screen of 5,445 small molecules and subsequent assays on motility/phototaxis and photosynthesis. Cheminformatic analysis revealed active core structures and was used to construct a naïve Bayes model that successfully predicts algal bioactive compounds.