Algae and Cyanobacteria
Our lab is pioneering metabolomic methods to better understand algal metabolism.
Algae have tremendous potential for producing complex lipids for biologically derived replacements of transportation fuels as they efficiently convert light, CO2, and trace nutrients into high-energy forms of carbon such as sugars, starches, fatty acids, triglycerides, and neutral lipids. They can be grown in large volume, and there are commercial algal facilities already at the hundreds of acre scale. Algae can reach production levels of 50 tons/acre/year, with the potential to produce 3,000 gallons of advanced lipid/acre/year.
To date most of the efforts to develop algae for biofuels have focused on either identifying strains that naturally accumulate high levels of lipids, or on developing photobioreactor designs to optimize algal growth. Few efforts have been made to understand the basic biochemistry and genetics of biofuel production in algae, yet this information is essential to devise more efficient production strains.