Key Green Algal Genome Provides Insights into Carbon Capture, Better Biofuels Production


Figure courtesy of Science magazine

It may not rank up there with the mapping of the human genome, but the analysis of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii's approximately 120-megabase genome last week by an international team of scientists (whose results were published in the October 12 issue of Science) could shed some new light on carbon capture processes and improved biofuel production. They identified a series of genes likely associated with the creation and function of chloroplasts - which are instrumental for photosynthesis to occur - and flagella.

Scientists are hopeful that the data will help spur new developments and strategies in fostering better carbon capture, soil detoxification and solar energy storage. It will also yield some valuable insight into related algae's biofuel production capabilities and efficiencies. Key to any new discovery will be a deeper understanding of the function and structure of the algae's chloroplasts, which help conduct photosynthesis and fuel other metabolic processes.

"The Chlamy genome is like a green time capsule that affords a view into the complex core machinery that gave rise to today’s energy-capturing and oxygen-producing chloroplasts ... its keen ability to efficiently capture and convert sunlight into energy, and its role in managing the global pool of carbon," said Daniel Rokhsar, the study's co-lead scientist and the head of DOE's Joint Genome Institute Computational Biology Program.

This new information may also prove helpful in devising new therapeutic solutions for human diseases affecting the hair structures of cilia and flagella - including polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and dystonia. Expect to see a raft of new studies/discoveries involving this algal genome within the next few months.

Via ::Science: The Chlamydomonas Genome Reveals the Evolution of Key Animal and Plant Functions (journal), ::Green Car Congress: Green Alga Genome Project Catalogs Carbon Capture Machinery; Opportunities for Improving Efficiencies of Biofuels Production (blog)

See also: ::New Company to Produce Biodiesel From Algae, ::Algatech and GreenFuel: Partnering For The Sake Of Algae And Fuel