1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To advance technologies required to make the algae biofuels industry cost-effective.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Investigate the elemental requirements for algae growth and oil production, the relationship between them and the genes responsible for it. We will conduct nutrient growth screens in collaboration with the Sayre lab at the Danforth Center. We will then conduct genetic screens for strains that use elements more efficiently while producing oils. We will also test strains with known ionomic genes deleted for their effect on the single cell ionome of a photosynthesizing organism.
To determine the growth landscape of algae strains across most of the multi-dimensional ion space of the available sources of water and nutrients for the production of algae, we completed a screen of a nine element space of phosphate, potassium, ammonia, nitrogen dioxide, sodium, chlorine, acetate, tris and sulfate for the model algae Chlamydomonas reinhardii. In addition to monitoring growth of the algae, we are also measuring the elemental and lipid content of the algae in each media where it grows. This will allow us to identify economical medias that will support algal biofuel production. We have also completed our experimental design and initial tests for selections that identify strains with improved growth characteristics. We will use these experiments to identify genes important for improved growth in economical medias. These efforts support our main research objective (To lay the groundwork for a computational systems biology approach to understanding gene x environmental interactions that control elemental uptake in soybeans) by allowing us to understand elemental uptake processes in a photosynthetic, oil producing, single cell model organism.