Replacing fossil fuels? Gene-edited algae could help cut biodiesel production costs

ace algae biofuel

Hiroshima University researchers developed a highly efficient genome editing system for microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica, which is a potential source of biodiesel.

Algae gather high concentrations of lipids through photosynthesis and these lipids can be used as feedstocks for sustainable new energies called biodiesels. Nannochloropsis species are microalgae that produce high amounts of lipids. However, production of algal biodiesel is more expensive than fossil fuel production. Thus, the researchers used Platinum transcription activator‐like effector nucleases (TALENs) in N. oceanica to explore the molecular breeding of the algae for practical use.

This led to high genome editing efficiency with no off-target mutations. Double mutant strains were obtained through the simultaneous introduction of TALENs targeting two genes. The loss‐of‐function phenotype of NoNR was also confirmed.

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