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Chasing renewable energy: Microalga’s DNA may reveal how to turn plants into fuel producers

genomesequen
The genome of Botryococcus braunii, being studied for its potential for biofuel by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists in College Station, has been sequenced. Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips.
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The genome of the fuel-producing green microalga Botryococcus braunii has been sequenced by a team of researchers led by a group at Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

The report…comes after almost seven years of research, according to Dr. Tim Devarenne, AgriLife Research biochemist…In addition to sequencing the genome, other genetic facts emerged that ultimately could help his team and others studying this green microalga further research toward producing algae and plants as a renewable fuel source.

“This alga is colony-forming, which means that a lot of individual cells grow to form a colony. These cells make lots of hydrocarbons…And these hydrocarbons can be converted into fuels – gasoline, kerosene and diesel, for example, the same way that one converts petroleum into these fuels,” Devarenne said.

Devarenne said his lab wants to understand not so much how to make fuel, but rather how the alga makes these hydrocarbons, what genes and enzymes are involved and how they function.

“Once we understand that, maybe we can manipulate the alga to make more oil or specific types of oil or maybe we can transfer those genes into other photosynthetic organisms to have them make the oil instead of the alga,” said Devarenne

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The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Genome sequence of fuel-producing alga announced

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