From: Kathleen Phillips via Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
Published May 15, 2017 10:38 AM

Genome sequence of fuel-producing alga announced

The report, in Genome Announcements, comes after almost seven years of research, according to Dr. Tim Devarenne, AgriLife Research biochemist and principal investigator in College Station. In addition to sequencing the genome, other genetic facts emerged that ultimately could help his team and others studying this green microalga further research toward producing algae and plants as a renewable fuel source.

"This alga is colony-forming, which means that a lot of individual cells grow to form a colony. These cells make lots of hydrocarbons and then export them into an extracellular matrix for storage," Devarenne said. "And these hydrocarbons can be converted into fuels -- gasoline, kerosene and diesel, for example, the same way that one converts petroleum into these fuels."

Devarenne pointed to previous studies showing that hydrocarbons from B. braunii have long been associated with petroleum deposits, indicating that over geologic time the alga has coincided with and contributed to the formation of petroleum deposits.

"Essentially, if we were to use the hydrocarbon oils from this alga to be a renewable fuel source, there would be no need to change any kind of infrastructure for making the fuel. It could be put right into the existing petroleum processing system and get the same fuels out of it," he said.

Continue reading at Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

Image: The genome of Botryococcus braunii, being studied for its potential for biofuel by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists in College Station, has been sequenced. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)

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