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Crop Biotech Update

ISU Discovers Genetic Method to Double Algae Biomass

November 25, 2011

Researchers at the Iowa State University (ISU) have discovered a genetic method that can increase biomass in algae by 50 to 80 percent. Certain genes were made to turn on a function that increases the amount of photosynthesis in the plant, which leads to more biomass.

"The key to this (increase in biomass) is combination of two genes that increases the photosynthetic carbon conversion into organic matter by 50 percent over the wild type under carbon dioxide enrichment conditions," said Martin Spalding, professor in the Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Spalding added that this discovery opens up possibilities for more and better biofuel development. By using some existing mutated genes, algae can be made to produce oil instead of starch.

See the ISU news at http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2011/nov/spaldingdario