[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
Northwestern University researchers have developed a quantitative tool that might help bring back coral from the brink of extinction. The novel algorithm could help asses...
Cellana, Inc., a leading developer of algae-based products for sustainable nutrition and energy applications, and PIVEG, Inc., a leader in high-specification ingredients ...
Nicolas Sainte-Foie writes for Labiotech.eu about French startup Algopack manufacturing bio-based plastics made from brown algae. Founded by Rémy Lucas in 2010 and manage...
Researchers at Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa, are developing technology, using algae, that improves the efficiency of wastewater reclamation. The system uses verti...
The University of Kentucky (UK) Center for Applied Energy Research’s (CAER) Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group has received a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Ener...
A Quebec-based company that specializes in the manufacturing and commercialization of marine and seaweed-based products for agriculture and horticulture constructed a new...
Matt Stultz writes in MakeZine.com about Algix’ unique 3-D printing filament created with a combination of algae and Polylactic Acid (PLA) – a biodegradable thermoplastic...
Suzanne Michaels, writes for the Las Cruces Sun-News that big implications are resulting from what looks like a small algae research project using the City’s wastewater. ...
Almost two years ago, on June 28, 2015, the rocket carrying experiments from Chatfield High School to the International Space Station disintegrated 139 seconds into its f...
Algatech has announced the opening of Algatech Inc., a New York City-based subsidiary created to serve the North American market. The company has appointed Ken Seguine to...
Adoption of advanced technologies in various stages of natural astaxanthin production, such as microalgae harvesting, cultivation, extraction, and drying, have been major...
The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) reports that an international team has discovered an enzyme which allows microalgae to convert some of their fatty acid...