Our series highlighting new and lesser-known laboratory model organisms continues in February, with two sets of articles detailing the use of moss and choanoflagellates.

The moss Physcomitrella patens has been used in laboratory research for more than 80 years, but the last 15 have seen a resurgence in moss research. P. patens can easily be grown in the lab, and spends most of its life in a haploid state that allows many of the approaches used in yeast and microbes to be applied. Methods for RNAi have been worked out, the genome has been sequenced and assembled, physical and genetic maps are available, and more than 250,000 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) are known. Ralph Quatrano and colleagues have contributed an overview of the use of P. patens as a laboratory organism to February’s issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols along with protocols for culture, isolation of protoplasts, somatic hybridization, chemical and UV mutagenesis, transformation via direct DNA uptake, T-DNA mutagenesis, and biolistic delivery systems, and isolation of DNA, RNA and proteins.

Choanoflagellates are a varied group of protozoa that are the closest living relative to the metazoa, and their study is leading to new insights into metazoan ancestry and origins. Barry Leadbeater and colleagues have written up a series of articles highlighting the use of Monosiga brevicollis as a representative species, as it has recently had its genome sequenced, and is readily grown and manipulated in the laboratory (protocols included are generally transferable to most choanoflagellate species). The set of articles includes an overview of choanoflagellates, and protocols for isolation from field samples and culture of choanoflagellates, long-term storage, visualization of actin and beta-tubulin, purification of total RNA, and preps for rapid DNA isolation, high molecular weight DNA isolation and separation of choanoflagellate and bacterial genomic DNA.

These articles on Emerging Model Organisms are being collected in a series of lab manuals, the first of which is currently available here (now on sale 25% off!).