University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Plant Sciences Research Seminars > Escaping the fossil fuel trap – functional characterisation of microalgal diacylglycerol acyltransferases

Escaping the fossil fuel trap – functional characterisation of microalgal diacylglycerol acyltransferases

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The increasing world demand for liquid fuels, combined with the depletion of traditional fossil fuel reserves and the threat of rising atmospheric CO2 levels, has resulted in strong global demand for alternative fuel sources. Microalgae are well suited for playing a significant role in meeting these demands, because their metabolic pathways and the high amount of triacylglycerides (TAGs) they are able to accumulate means that they could be used for liquid biofuel production on a large scale. With increasing understanding of the TAG biosynthesis pathway, modifying it to produce more desired compounds will become possible.

My PhD project involves attempting to elucidate the functions, physiological roles and modes of action of microalgal diacylglyceride acyltransferases (DGATs), enzymes known to play a pivotal role in TAG biosynthesis. The reasons for multiple isoforms of this enzyme being retained through evolutionary history in the microalgal lineages are unknown, so by approaching the problem from the complementary perspectives of molecular biology and biochemistry, the knowledge gained will be useful for generating a more complete understanding of microalgal lipid metabolism and for increasing microalgal TAG production for biofuel generation.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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