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Engineering marine algae for the production of high value molecules at Københavns Universitet

Annually marine algae fixate about 50% of all the CO2 on a global scale making the world’s oceans the blue lungs of the Earth. Sunlight are the sole energy source for biological CO2 fixation and algae use this energy for making nutrients, vitamins, and special molecules for survival and multiplication much like cultivated plants do on terrestrial lands. Unlike cultivated plants marine algae can grow in saline water, a plentiful resource here on Earth, however most algae are not harvested for their nutrients and special molecules because they in contrast to cultivated plants have not been bred for this purpose. In this project we will use modern molecular biology techniques, to optimize the marine algae Nannochloropsis Oceanica to produce vitamins and high value molecules typically found in miniscule amounts in medicinal plants. Based on the CRISPR-cas9 technology we will optimize methods for inserting, deleting and modifying genes in N. Oceanica enabling N. oceanica to become a production organism for high value molecules, using only sea water, CO2 and sunlight as input.

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