The AlgaeOilSynth project aims at identification and characterization of oil synthesis and accumulation pathways in two promising oleaginous microalgae - Nannochloropsis oceanica and Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Photosynthetic microalgae are promising biofuel resource and can provide sufficient liquid fuels on a few per cent of available land when compared to plants. The key feature of oleaginous microalgae is that under unfavourable environmental conditions, they produce substantial amounts of lipids, mainly as triacylglycerols (TAGs), which are important fuel precursors. Therefore, there is a strong need of mechanistic studies on lipid metabolism in microalgae oriented towards developing of new avenues of genetic engineering of a direct use for boosting global biofuel production. The AlgaeOilSynth project is designed to understand, through cytological, molecular and genetic analysis how oleaginous algae cells synthesize and accumulate TAGs. Based on their features as well as on some particular differences in lipid metabolism, N. oceanica and P. tricornutum have been chosen as experimental models. The specific objectives of the project are: 1) to analyze and compare cellular mechanisms of lipid droplets formation in both models, 2) to identify the most promising genes controlling TAGs formation and to test their spatiotemporal expression patterns, and 3) to perform functional analysis of the candidate genes by their expression in yeast and plant. The scientific outcomes of this project and its original experimental strategy is based on excellent experience of scientists in charge - Prof. Christoph Benning (outgoing phase of the project at Michigan State University, USA) and – Prof. Ivo Feussner (outgoing phase of the project at University of Göttingen, Germany). The scientific and methodological potential of AlagaeOilSynth project support its’ great value for the European Community and will strengthen the 2020 Vision for the European Research Area (ERA).
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