Fattened, Genetically Engineered Algae Might Fuel the Future

20 Jun 2017   Biofuels

The future of fuel is green, slimy, and reeks of fish. “Fish smell like fish because fish eat algae,” says Imad Ajjawi, a geneticist at the synbio company Synthetic Genomics in La Jolla, CA that grows those smelly photosynthesizers. This algae is also fatty, which probably isn’t a word you’d typically associate with the goopy, mucky organism. But scientists like Ajjawi have spent decades dreaming about algae this fat. Because fat is essentially oil, fatty algae could be the world’s most successful fuel crop. Ajjawi and his colleagues spent nearly a decade tweaking an algae genome so it produces more than twice as much fat than wild versions of the same species, and Monday they described their efforts in an article published in Nature Biotechnology . Algae are similar to plants, in that they need nutrients, carbon dioxide, and sunlight to survive. If you starve them of nutrients—think nitrogen, […]

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