Ancient origin of fucosylated xyloglucan in charophycean green algae

Maria Dalgaard Mikkelsen, Jesper Harholt, Bjørge Westereng, David Domozych, Stephen C Fry, Ida Elisabeth Johansen, Jonatan U Fangel, Mateusz Łężyk, Tao Feng, Louise Nancke, Jørn D Mikkelsen, William G T Willats, Peter Ulvskov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The charophycean green algae (CGA or basal streptophytes) are of particular evolutionary significance because their ancestors gave rise to land plants. One outstanding feature of these algae is that their cell walls exhibit remarkable similarities to those of land plants. Xyloglucan (XyG) is a major structural component of the cell walls of most land plants and was originally thought to be absent in CGA. This study presents evidence that XyG evolved in the CGA. This is based on a) the identification of orthologs of the genetic machinery to produce XyG, b) the identification of XyG in a range of CGA and, c) the structural elucidation of XyG, including uronic acid-containing XyG, in selected CGA. Most notably, XyG fucosylation, a feature considered as a late evolutionary elaboration of the basic XyG structure and orthologs to the corresponding biosynthetic enzymes are shown to be present in Mesotaenium caldariorum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number754
Number of pages12
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021


  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Wall/chemistry
  • Chlorophyceae/genetics
  • Embryophyta/metabolism
  • Genome, Plant/genetics
  • Glucans/metabolism
  • Glycosylation
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Xylans/metabolism
  • Zygnematales/genetics


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