Microalgae populate oceans, lakes and ponds. Through photosynthesis they sustain life on Earth, by sequestering atmospheric CO2 and producing almost half of the oxygen on Earth. Microalgae also have a vast, largely untapped, biotechnological potential. They generate biomass and natural products requiring only seawater, light and inorganic nutrients.
Microalgal species are extremely numerous and diverse, and evolved a myriad of biological solutions to adapt and thrive in the most different aquatic habitats. These traits and diversity offer new engineering opportunities and represent an unexplored reservoir for biotech applications.
The Algae Synthetic Biology Lab employs innovative strategies to investigate microalgal biology and to develop of novel strains, designed to synthesize a variety of high-value bio-products.
The research focus is mainly centered on diatoms - one of the most diverse and genetically tractable group of microalgae - and include:
- Isoprenoid metabolism and natural products
- Gene discovery and single-cell biology
- Synthetic biology and high-throughput strain engineering
- Exploration of non-model diatom species