Enhanced Microalgae with Increased CO2 Assimilation and Biomass Production

Iowa State University Research Foundation
posted on 11/17/2011

Iowa State University researchers have discovered two genes in Chlamydomonas that result in increased biomass production and photosynthesis under conditions amenable to industrial biofuel production.

Suggested Uses

Biofuel production


*Increased biomass yield
*Enhancement of photosynthesis
*Ability to divert biomass to either oil or carbohydrate production

Innovation Details

Detailed Description

Many factors have driven interest in renewable fuels in recent years. Production of biodiesel and other fuels and chemicals from photosynthetic microalgae has consequently received significant attention because microalgae have the advantages of being a non-food crop that requires less arable land for growth, and produces five times more biomass per hectare compared to land-based crops like corn, grasses, and soybeans. In addition, microalgae contain oil for energy production, and biofuel production from microalgae is potentially carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative. However, in order to offer an economically viable alternative to other types of fuels, biofuel production costs from microalgae must be reduced to competitive levels.

As a result of a productivity and photosynthesis study in microalgae under elevated CO2 concentrations , ISU researchers have demonstrated that over-expression in Chlamydomonas reinhardti of two native genes increases biomass production. Furthermore, the same study showed that the photosynthetic CO2 assimilation rate is also increased. The researchers also showed that by using the appropriate genetic background, the increased biomass can be channeled to oil production or carbohydrate formation. Consequently, transgenic Chlamydomonas reinhardti strains have potential for improving the efficiency—and economics—of industrial chemicals, including biofuels.

File Number: ISURF #3937 

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This innovation currently is not available for online licensing. Please contact Dario Valenzuela at Iowa State University Research Foundation for more information.

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Dario Valenzuela Dario Valenzuela

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