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Transmission electron microscopy
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Chlorophyta
Class: Prasinophyceae
Order: Mamiellales
Family: Mamiellaceae
Genus: Ostreococcus
C. Courties & M.-J. Chrétiennot-Dinet (1995)
  • O. tauri
  • O. lucimarinus

Ostreococcus is a genus of unicellular coccoid or spherically shaped green alga belonging to the class Prasinophyceae. It was discovered in 1994 in the Thau lagoon by Courties and Chretiennot-Dinet,[1] and has since been found in many oceanic regions. It is the smallest known free-living eukaryote with an average size of 0.8 µm. The genome sequence (12.56 Mb nuclear genome) of O. tauri was published in 2006.[2]

Ostreococcus tauri has a nucleus (with 20 linear chromosomes), one chloroplast, and several mitochondria.[3]


  1. ^ Courties, C. et al. (1994). Smallest eukaryotic organism. Nature 370: 255.
  2. ^ Derelle, E. et al. (2006). Genome analysis of the smallest free-living eukaryote Ostreococcus tauri unveils many unique features. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 11647-52.
  3. ^ Courties, C. et al. (1998). J. Phycol 34: 844.


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