Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Identify Enzyme that Could Accelerate Biofuel Production

August 22, 2018

Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have identified an enzyme from the glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) family as a promising target for increasing biofuel production from the red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae.

Algae store large amounts of oils called triacylglycerols (TAGs) under adverse conditions. This mechanism has caught the interest of the biotechnology sector as TAGs can be converted to biodiesel. A study led by Sousuke Imamura at Tokyo Tech's Laboratory for Chemistry and Life Science has shown that the enzyme GPAT1 plays an important role in TAG accumulation in C. merolae even under normal growth conditions. The research team found that TAG production could be increased by more 56 times in a C. merolae strain overexpressing GPAT1, without any negative effects on algal growth.

More details are available in Tokyo Tech News.