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Algae synthetic biology and molecular biotechnology


Microalgae are unicellular organisms that can be found in oceans, lakes, ponds, and even ice. They play a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth by using photosynthesis to sequester atmospheric CO2 and produce oxygen. Microalgae have a vast and largely untapped biotechnological potential. They can efficiently convert CO2 into biomass and natural products, requiring only seawater, light, and inorganic nutrients.

Microalgae are incredibly diverse, with a wide range of species that have developed unique biological adaptations to thrive in different aquatic habitats and respond to the environment. These adaptations serve as an untapped resource for biotechnological applications, presenting novel opportunities for engineering advancements. We employ innovative strategies to investigate the biology of microalgae, to understand their role and impact in the biosphere. We channel this knowledge into developing novel strains, designed to perform specialized functions, from synthetizing high-value metabolites to detecting environmental pollutants.

Our research focuses on:
- Investigation and engineering of algae metabolism and high-value product biosynthesis
- Domestication and engineering of algae strains using GMO and non-GMO methods
- Algae photo-physiology in industrial settings
- New applications of algae using laboratory evolution, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology

Group members:
Associate Professor Michele Fabris
Postdoc Payal Patwari
Dr Luca Morelli (post-doc)
PhD student Florian Pruckner

Laboratory and research capacity
We have expertise, capacity and streamlined workflows for high-throughput strain genetic engineering, screening, and phenotyping. Our laboratory is certified for GMO Class 1 work, and we are equipped for the controlled cultivation of natural algal isolates and bioengineered strains.

Our research is supported by the Villum Fonden, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Horizon Europe Framework Program, the SDU Department of Green Technology (IGT) and the SDU Climate Cluster (SCC).

Academic and industrial collaborations
We work with national and international academic and industrial partners. If you are interested in exploring collaboration opportunities with us, feel free to get in touch (


Contact information: Michele Fabris


SDU Biotechnology

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Villum Young Investigator Programme


Last Updated 06.12.2023