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Mar 11, 2010

Gene Mapping Algae for Biofuel

Algae B. brauniiPhoto: Texas A& M University, College Station, Texas 
Texas A&M University reports that a team of researchers has been working on gene mapping the algae B. braunii to better understand its cellular composition and how it could be converted into biofuel. The project is headed by Dr. Timothy Devarenne, assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics.

According to professor Devarenne, “[o]ils from the green algae Botryococcus braunii can be readily detected in petroleum deposits and coal deposits suggesting that B. braunii has been a contributor to developing these deposits and may be the major contributor. … B. braunii algae show particular promise not just because of their high production of oil but also because of the type of oil they produce …The fuels derived from B. braunii hydrocarbons are chemically identical to gasoline, diesel and kerosene.”

To produce biofuel from B. braunii, the hydrocarbons are processed the same way petroleum is processed. “So there is no difference other than the millions of years petroleum spent underground.”

The major problem with using B. braunii is that they reproduce slowly – doubling every four days. To overcome this problem, the Texas A& M University research team is studying the genetic structure of B. braunii. Final genome sequencing and mapping will be performed by DOE’s Joint Genome Institute. Other team researchers are from the University of Kentucky and the University of Tokyo. Research results and methodology will be published in the Journal of Phycology this summer.

For more see:

Burns, Robert.  "AgriLife scientists do groundwork for genetic mapping of algae biofuel species: Botryococcus braunii algae contributed to existing petroleum deposits." AgriLife News, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, 11 March 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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