Monday, November 23, 2015

Algal Biotechnology Workshop at IIT Mumbai on 21st Nov 2015

It was an insightful workshop on algal biotechnology at VMCC hall, IIT Mumbai during 21st November 2015. The organizers managed to have the world leaders as speakers in this area. The workshop started with handing over the materials to the participants followed by welcome address by Dr. Wangikar from IIT Mumbai followed by an insightful talk by Dr. Santanu Dasgupta from Reliance Industries.

Summaries of some of the interesting talks are discussed here:

De. Duu-long Jee from Department of Chemical Engineering, National Taiwan University:
Lutein, one of the 600 naturally occurring carotenoids is abundantly found in marigold flowers as well as in Micro-algae. Dr. jee presented an overview of cost-effectiveness of Lutein production with microalgae vs marigold flowers. Although microalgae produces about 3-4 times more lutein compared to Marigold flowers, but the energy required to extract those from micro-alga makes it an expansive option. Marigold on the other hand needs less nutrient, less power but more space... So, there is a need for engineering micro-algae that can have enhanced Lutein production with lesser energy dependence for extraction.

John Beardall, Monash University:

Extremophiles will play a major role in algal biotechnology, since they have altered metabolism. It is a well known fact that CO2 is sequestered in algae to enhance growth. But growth and lipid accumulation are oxymoron. Don't happen at the same time. They have explored media as a way for determining what favors the optimized fatty acid production. Their observation indicates that some micro-algae grow really well in media with altered  source of carbon (glycerol and xylose) and also produce optimal fatty acid. Myxotrophic growth is favored for higher fatty acid production.

Jo-Shu Chang, Department of chemical engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tanian, Taiwan:

Talked about CO2 sequestration by micro-algae and production of economically important compounds. He discussed about major energy components from micro-algae as Butanol, ethanol, H2, Diols, lactic acids and succinic acids. The effluent gas composed of 23.1% CO2, SOx 85 ppm, NOx 75 ppm and at temperature of 230C can be used for growing microalgae. Burkholderia (a proteo bacter) can be used for lipase production.

Min S. Park, Advanced Biomass R & D Center, BioEnergy Engineering and Research Laboratories, Dept. of chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Daejeon, Republic of Korea:

Nanocloropsis is the choicest microalgae used for studying bioenergy production. These organisms have lipid droplets in their chloroplast. They have done series of signalling work involving Nanochloropsis and came to conclusion that JNK type of MAPK was highly activated under osmotic stress. NaCl induces osmotic stress -> acts upon MAPKK -> acts on MAPK -> represses Transcription factor -> inducing lipid production. They also observed that lipid production is inhibited by treatment of MEK specific inhibitor. The microbial culture community comprising the treatment plants mostly contained scenedesmus, Golenkinia, Microspora, Micractinium etc.

Jong Moon Park, Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Division of Advanced Nuclear Engineering, POSTECH, Republic of Korea:

He presented 2 different aspects of Bio-enegy production: 1. Enhanced fatty acid production from microalgae and ethanol production of Cyanobacteria.
In Cyanobacteria, they have used several approaches for enhancing ethanol production directly by manipulating few enzymes. One is glucose-6-phosphate 1-dehydrogenase, encoded by zwf and the other is Pdc.  His admission is that ethanol from these engineered bacteria is released out of the cell and hence is not dangerous for the organism itself.
His notable work is also on microalgae where they have used food waste water and municipal sludge as one of the combinations for optimal growth of microalgae. He has also suggested that the municipality wate or food waste water can be diluted 20 times for growing micro-algae in them.
Chlorella was used for bio-diesel production.
Article look up are: Dexter and Fu, 2009; Li, C. 2015 for ethanol from Cyanobacteria.

Apart from this there were many more interesting talks, that I am not delving upon here. So, in all, everyone is looking for a breakthrough in growing these organisms faster and producing fatty acids quickly....


  1. very useful piece of information, i should say a virtual conference !!

  2. Thank you Madhu! I am glad that you are checking on the articles regularly!

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