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Sara Volz

Methods to Augment Algal Oil Yields for Biofuels

Colorado Springs, CO
Grade 12


Methods to Augment Algal Oil Yields for Biofuels

Algae biofuel is a promising renewable alternative to fossil fuel, but algal oil yields must increase to make this option feasible, so this work investigates environmental and genetic factors impacting algal lipid synthesis. Nitrogen limitation was shown to decrease algal growth but increase lipid content. Novel primers and refined algal RNA techniques were applied to study transcription of an enzyme crucial in lipid biosynthesis for better understanding of the enzyme's role in stress-induced lipid accumulation. Artificial selection was used to establish cell lines resistant to an herbicide which inhibits the crucial enzyme as a novel strategy to increase the enzyme's activity and therefore, lipid synthesis. Importantly, artificial selection results demonstrate significant increases in lipid accumulation in the experimental cell lines. If results can be sustained, artificial selection could prove a novel method for increasing microalgal oil yields.


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