By Cameron Chai
Researchers from Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), Virginia Tech have constructed the draft genome of a marine algae sequence to help US researchers identify better algae species for biodiesel production.
Dr. Hongseok Tae and Dr. Robert Settlage, researchers at Data Analysis Core (DAC) of VBI, helped in assembling the Nannochloropis gaditana genome. N. gaditana is a marine alga, which may produce the lipids required for a fuel source.
The need for producing renewable and alternative fuel sources has been realized long before to reduce greenhouse gases and prevent energy crisis. Different sources, including soybeans for biodiesel and corn for ethanol, have been used to address this crisis. However, more research is required to meet the global energy need, where less number of resources must be used in less space to produce large amounts of biofuel and hence, algae was chosen as an alternative.
When compared to soybeans or corn, algae can grow on small bare lands and they can use different water sources including brackish water, waste water and more. While burning, algae produce CO2, but they can sequester this gas while growing, which is not possible through fossil fuels.
N. gaditana was analyzed further and the findings show that simple genetic modification in this alga may produce large amounts of biodiesel.
The study has been published in the hotlink of the journal, Nature Communications.