Exploiting diversity and synthetic biology for the production of algal biofuels


Modern life is intimately linked to the availability of fossil fuels, which continue to meet the world's growing energy needs even though their use drives climate change, exhausts finite reserves and contributes to global political strife. Biofuels made from renewable resources could be a more sustainable alternative, particularly if sourced from organisms, such as algae, that can be farmed without using valuable arable land. Strain development and process engineering are needed to make algal biofuels practical and economically viable.

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Figure 1: Comparison of oleaginous crops.
Figure 2: Algal biofuel production.
Figure 3: Algae cultivation methods.


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This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, grant number DE-EE-0003373, and the California Energy Commission Initiative for Large Molecule Sustainable Fuels, Agreement Number: 500-10-039.

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Correspondence to Stephen P. Mayfield.

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S.P.M. is a founder and board member of Sapphire Energy.

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Georgianna, D., Mayfield, S. Exploiting diversity and synthetic biology for the production of algal biofuels. Nature 488, 329–335 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11479

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