[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]

Research

ISU Researchers Pair Genes to Up Photosynthetic Carbon Conversion

November 21, 2011
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Iowa State University’s Martin Spalding

Iowa State University’s Martin Spalding is leading a team developing a genetic method to increase biomass in algae. Photo: Bob Elbert

Researchers at Iowa State University, in Ames, IA, are exploring the effects of controlling the expression of two algal genes that regulate the uptake of CO2 for photosynthesis. In the experiments performed under the direction of Martin Spalding, professor in the Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology, the researchers noticed an increase in the algal biomass by 50 to 80 percent when these two genes were artificially expressed.

“The key to this (increase in biomass) is a combination of two genes that increase the photosynthetic carbon conversion into organic matter by 50 percent over the wild type under carbon dioxide enrichment conditions,” said Dr. Spalding.

In environments that have relatively low levels of CO2, two genes in algae—LCIA and LCIB—are expressed, or turned on, to help capture and then channel more carbon dioxide from the air into the cells to keep the algae alive and growing. However, when algae are in environments with high carbon dioxide levels, such as in soil near plant roots that are expiring carbon dioxide, the two relevant genes shut down because the plant is getting enough carbon dioxide.

“The process is similar to a car driving up a hill,” says Spalding. “The accelerator—these two genes—is pressed and the engine works hard to climb a hill. But when going down an incline, the driver often lets up on the accelerator since more gas isn’t needed—the genes shut down. The two genes are expressed—essentially keeping algae’s foot on the gas—even when they are in a carbon dioxide-rich environment and don’t need additional carbon dioxide.”

In experiments to get the algae type (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) to produce more biomass, Spalding first expressed LCIA and LCIB separately. Each indicated a 10 to 15 percent increase in biomass. When the two genes were expressed together, researchers were surprised to see the 50 to 80 percent biomass increase. “Somehow these two genes are working together to increase the amount of carbon dioxide that’s converted through photosynthesis into biomass by the algae under conditions where you would expect there would already be enough carbon dioxide,” said Spalding.

This research was funded in part by grants from the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy.

Go to HOME Page

Copyright ©2010-2011 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

Visit the A.I.M. Archives

AIM interview ArchivesAlgae 101 ArchivesHot Products ArchivesInnovations ArchivesMoney ArchivesProcess ArchivesResearch ArchivesScale Up ArchivesThe Buzz Archives

FREE Algae News & Updates

Sign up to receive breaking A.I.M. updates! 

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Algix, parent company of Solaplast, will be inaugurating their algae-to-plastic facility in Meridian, Mississippi, on November 14, 2014. Solaplast's facility will be focu...
In October 2014 an unusual AlgaePARC research paper entitled Design and construction of the microalgal pilot facility AlgaePARC was published in the Journal of Algal Rese...
Kevin Valine at the Modesto Bee writes that the California city of Modesto may sell the algae that grows in its roughly 1,000 acres of sewer ponds at its Jennings Road wa...
Algae “red tide” events often create dazzling nighttime light shows of blue-green bioluminescence resulting from the force generated by breaking waves. While many mysteri...
Biocrude oil obtained from hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of algae can be an energy-efficient replacement for the fossil crude oil normally used in the production of fue...
In Japan, the Algae Biomass Energy System Development Research Center, headed by Professor Makoto Watanabe, was established at the University of Tsukuba on July 1. The ne...
Using a newly devised technique, researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) have examined microalgae strains in the Culture Collection of Algae and...
Bigelow Laboratory, of East Boothbay, Maine, and the University of Mississippi have formed a five-year Strategic Inter-Institutional Partnership Agreement for collaborati...
DENSO Corporation, Toyota Motor Corp.’s largest supplier, has announced that it will build a large test facility to culture Pseudochoricystis ellipsoidea – an oil-produci...
I’m an aquanaut teen. I was born in immersion in 2050 in an underwater farm called “Aequorea” off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Bio-inspired, the farm draws its name from ...
In a radical pivot, algal fuel pioneer Solazyme Inc. will be changing its name to TerraVia™ to reflect a new focus on food, nutrition and specialty ingredients. A pioneer...
The U.S. Department of Energy’s just released 2016 Billion-Ton Report: Advancing Domestic Resources for a Thriving Bioeconomy summarizes the most recent estimates of pote...