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UAM Scientists Receive NSF Grant for Algae Study

August 23, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Dr. Karen Fawley and Dr. Marvin Fawley

Dr. Karen Fawley and Dr. Marvin Fawley

Dr. Karen Fawley, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Marvin Fawley, associate professor and assistant dean for science and research at University of Arkansas at Monticello’s School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, recently received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation totaling $152,273 to study Eustigmatophyceae, a little-known group of microalgae.

According to Karen Fawley, the principal investigator on the project, these microalgae have “significant potential for the biofuels industry, which is a current national priority. Some species have high levels of omega fatty acids and could be used to produce these lipids as nutritional supplements.”

A portion of the research grant will fund travel to the Czech Republic, where the Fawleys will meet with scientists at The Charles University in Prague, who are conducting similar research and are collaborating with the Fawleys.

According to Karen Fawley, current research has revealed that the Eustigmatophyceae are much more common and diverse than previously thought. “Our DNA sequence analyses for these strains have shown that the existing classification of these species is flawed,” she said.

The Fawleys, in collaboration with their colleagues in the Czech Republic, will characterize new strains of the microalgae with the goals of creating a description of new groupings and species, and revising the higher-level classification of Eustigmatophyceae.

Understanding the taxonomy and the evolutionary development and diversification of these algae as well as providing new taxonomic groups and strains could positively impact both practical and commercial uses,” said Karen.

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