Thraustochytrids are unicellular, heterotrophic marine eukaryotes. Some species are known to store surplus carbon as intracellular lipids, and these also contain the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Most vertebrates are unable to synthesize sufficient amounts of DHA, and this fatty acid is essential for, e.g., marine fish, domesticated animals, and humans. Thraustochytrids may also produce other commercially valuable fatty acids and isoprenoids. Due to the great potential of thraustochytrids as producers of DHA and other lipid-related molecules, a need for more knowledge on this group of organisms is needed. This necessitates the ability to do genetic manipulation of the different strains. Thus far, this has been obtained for a few strains, while it has failed for other strains. Here, we systematically review the genetic transformation methods used for different thraustochytrid strains, with the aim of aiding studies on strains not yet successfully transformed. The designs of transformation cassettes are also described and compared. Moreover, the potential problems when trying to establish transformation protocols in new thraustochytrid species/strains are discussed, along with suggestions utilized in other organisms to overcome similar challenges. The approaches discussed in this review could be a starting point when designing protocols for other non-model organisms.
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