APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Human health and nutrition
- Biofuel feedstocks
- Food production
- More economically viable means to produce microalgae
- Identifies specific genes required for astaxanthin antioxidant synthesis
Researchers led by Melissa Roth of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Krishna Niyogi of the Berkeley Lab have developed a method to induce astaxanthin production in Chromochloris zofingiensis green algae using RNA sequencing methodology. Astaxanthin is a high-value ketocarotenoid and a potent antioxidant.
Current approaches to produce astaxanthin include transformation methods and growing large amounts of algae. The Berkeley Lab approach provides a high quality, chromosomal-level assembly of the C. zofingiensis genome to engineer this microalga for commercial-level production of astaxanthin.
C. zofingiensis naturally produces lipid intermediates leading to biofuel components. Microalgae show great promise as a cellular platform for bioproduct manufacturing due to their utilization of solar energy, carbon dioxide, and rapid growth on non-arable land. This technology addresses the first step towards the necessary engineering and optimization of microalgae for pilot-scale production by providing a detailed genomic structure and sequence of the chromosomal, mitochondrial, and plastid genomes, as well as a transcriptome.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Roth, M., Cokus, S., Gallaher, S., Walter, A., Lopez, D., Erickson, E., Endelman, B., Westcott, D., Larabell, C., Merchant, S., Pellegrini, M., Niyogi, K. “Chromosome-level genome assembly and transcriptome of the green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis illuminates astaxanthin production,” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2017, 114 (21).
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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