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Development of breeding strategies for Nitzschia sp.
Phone: (808) 212-4509
Phone: (760) 822-8277
Contact: Mark Hildebrand
Phone: (858) 534-1987
Type: Nonprofit College or University
Renewable algae fuels are the source of energy for the future. It was demonstrated that algae fuels can be produced and they were successfully used in demonstration airplane flights and cars. The cost of algae oil is still high and cannot compete with fossil fuels. High algae growth and ability to accumulate oil fast are the key factors that will make algae based biofuels affordable. Diatoms are the most productive algae with highest oil accumulation rates. The improved strains of diatoms obtained through genetic modification so far did not show improved growth or sustained increased lipid production in outdoor cultivation systems. Breeding was used to obtain better crops and farm animals for centuries but breeding of algae is still in its infancy. This project aims to develop breeding methodology for diatoms. The project will analyze the life cycle of a commercial diatom strain. This will provide an understanding of its sexual reproduction and allow for the development of techniques to breed diatoms in a controlled manner similar to terrestrial crops. Traditional microscopy analysis and molecular biology approaches will be used to demonstrate that controlled diatom breeding is possible. The first goal is to obtain diatom strains with high lipid content, but this concept can be applied when optimizing a strain for any property of interest like tolerance to infection or high growth rate. Diatom breeding has a potential to be a game changer in algae-based biofuels and is one of the new technologies that will make algae biofuels affordable.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *