Engineering Microalgae for biofuel and Fatty acid production - A CRISPR-Cas based approach

Project

Engineering Microalgae for biofuel and Fatty acid production - A CRISPR-Cas based approach

What if we could generate fuels directly just from Carbon dioxide and sunlight? In fact, the tiny green single celled microalgae are capable of doing it. However, we need to engineer these solar powered microalgae to enhance the amount of fuels/valuable compounds that can be produced to make them a sustainable biofuel production platform. We are developing and using the advanced CRISPR/Cas systems to achieve this goal.

Background

Nannochloropsis oceanica is a microalgae that has been noted for its increased capability to produce Triacylglycerols (TAG) and PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids). TAGs are used for biofuel production and PUFA’s have exceptional health benefits. However, the present amounts of these compounds produced by our strain is not sufficient to commercialize the production of biofuels and health supplements.

Production of biofuels and PUFAs

Metabolic engineering of the strain with a focus on our product of interest could develop this strain as a platform organism for sustainable production of biofuels and PUFAs. To perform metabolic engineering, efficient genome editing tools are required. We have developed a CRISPR-Cas based genome editing system for successful generation of knockout and knock in mutants of our strain.

Project

We have presently two parallel research lines in this particular project.

1.    Further development of genome editing tools using CRISPR-Cas12a for multiplexed genome editing and gene silencing.

2.    Metabolic engineering of the strain for enhancing the TAG and PUFA content of the strain.

Contact

Interested in one of these projects? Please contact Mihris Naduthodi (mihris.naduthodi@wur.nl)