Clean Tech Using Microalgae: From Biofuels to Bioactives
There is a growing interest in the exploitation of microalgal species as industrial biotech platforms for the synthesis of natural and recombinant products. These include biofuel molecules; colorants and antioxidants for food or cosmetics; bioactives for the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical sectors; and high-value recombinant proteins. Genetic enhancement (‘domestication’) of selected species is fundamental to their exploitation, allowing large-scale phototrophic cultivation of a dense monoculture. For high-value products, synthetic biology tools need to be developed to allow the creation of bespoke algal strains. In this presentation I will introduce you to the ‘treasure trove’ of algal diversity, and discuss how we and other researchers are using synthetic biology approaches to engineer algae that produce: i) therapeutic proteins such as hormones, anti-microbials, subunit vaccines and immunotoxins; ii) novel metabolites such as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, natural pigments and bioactive terpenoids. Finally, I will discuss the significant challenges of producing biodiesel and other hydrocarbon-based biofuels from microalgae.
This event is hosted by the ‘CleanTech Challenge’; a yearly global competition for students with innovative clean technology ideas and an opportunity to win the £10,000 winner prize money to help develop a business plan. Our competition is aimed at providing a platform for graduate students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and business sectors to meet and collaborate in an interdisciplinary manner. This in an invaluable learning experience for students, providing experience and teaching skills that are lacking in the formal education system.
We hope to garner the interest of students studying in the field of biological sciences in our competition and the opportunity to bring their science knowledge to work with business minds.
If you are interested in the CleanTech Challenge, come along and check out our website https://www.cleantechchallenge.uk/