Microalgae

Microalgae have remarkable potential for producing biofuels and bioproducts, sequestering CO2, and treating wastewater. Until recently, these features have been considered independent from one another making each use of algae expensive and economically impractical. Furthermore, the US DOE has identified increasing lipid productivity as a critical step to reducing costs of algal biofuels. Finally, there are components of microalgae, in particular their polysaccharides, that are poorly utilized. Cell wall polysacharrides have the potential to serve as a feedstock for ethanol production. Mixotrophic growth of algae in which the cells utilize both light and organic carbon as an energy source is a proven way to increase lipid and starch productivity in certain microalgae. One potential source of organic carbon is municipal and industrial wastewater. However, mixotrophic cultures have not been employed at scale due, largely to concerns about contaminating organisms.  Our research objectives include

1. Understanding what effects contaminating organisms might have on biofuel production in mixotrophic cultures

2. Elucidating changes in cell wall composition and structure when grown under different mixotrophic conditions

3. Determining polysaccharides present in the cell wall to better understand cell lysis and pretreatment

Recent publications

Higgins BT, Gennity I, Samra S, Kind T, Fiehn O, VanderGheynst JS. 2016. Cofactor symbiosis for enhanced algal growth, biofuel production, and wastewater treatment. Algal Research 17:308-315.

Tsugawa H, Cajka T, Kind T, Ma Y, Higgins B, Ikeda K, Kanazawa M, VanderGheynst J, Fiehn O, M A. 2015. MS-DIAL: Data independent MS/MS deconvolution for comprehensive metabolome analysis. Nature Methods 12:523-526.

Higgins BT, Nobles D, Ma Y, Wikoff W, Kind T, Fiehn O, Brand J, VanderGheynst JS. 2015. Informatics for improved algal taxonomic classification and research: A case study of UTEX 2341. Algal Research 12:545-549.

Higgins B, Labavitch JM, VanderGheynst JS. 2015. Co-culturing Chlorella minutissima with Escherichia coli can increase neutral lipid production and improve biodiesel quality. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 112(9):1801-1809.

Cheng Y-S, Labavitch J, VanderGheynst JS. 2015. Organic and inorganic nitrogen impact Chlorella variabilis productivity and host quality for viral production and cell lysis. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 176(2):467-479.

Cheng Y-S, Labavitch J, VanderGheynst JS. 2015. Elevated CO2 concentration impacts cell wall polysaccharide composition of green microalgae of the Genus Chlorella Letters in Applied Microbiology 60(1):1-7.

Tanadul O-u-m, VanderGheynst JS, Beckles DM, Powell ALT, Labavitch JM. 2014. The impact of elevated CO2 concentration on the quality of algal starch as a potential biofuel feedstock. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 111(7):1323-1331.

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