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Using synthetic biology in algae for the production of designer lipids
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The research focus on microalgae as biotechnological hosts has increased enormously over the past few years. The aim of the BBSRC -funded ‘Algal Oils by Design’ project is to engineer microalgae to produce in a predictable fashion high levels of novel fatty acids or valuable oils, such as the nutritionally important omega-3 fatty acids. The marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum is an interesting biotechnology host because of the ability to reach a high biomass, the natural accumulation of large amounts of lipids and the availability of genomic resources. However, there are still limitations for a wider commercial use and one bottleneck for the development of commercial usable strains is the availability of a variety of molecular biology tools to allow controlled transgene expression. My role in this collaboration is to follow a synthetic biology approach and test the functionality of various DNA parts, such as promoters, 5’UTRs, 3’UTRs and chloroplast target peptides for Phaeodactylum tricornutum. I will present data on the influence of different promoter and terminator combinations on transgene expression. In the future the characterised DNA parts will be used to modify the lipid metabolism in Phaeodactylum and following microdroplet cell sorting and lipid analysis of transformants by collaborating labs, the data obtained will be fed into metabolic models that can inform the rational design of future cell lines to produce different high-value oils.
This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.
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