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Title: Molecular aspects of algal biofuels
Author: Shellcock, Carole
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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The ability of micro–algae to respond to diverse and often rapidly changing habitats has been attributed to the versatility of their cellular lipids. Amongst these the energy rich triacylglycerols (TAG) have attracted considerable attention due to their potential use as feedstock for renewable biofuel. Although micro-algae have considerable advantages over other biofuel sources there are constraints to their utilisation. Improvements are required in certain areas including efficiencies in production and enhanced lipid yields if micro-algal biofuels are to become commercially feasible. To achieve this, genetic and metabolic manipulation will be essential and therefore a greater understanding of the lipid biosynthetic pathways is required. In this study the expression of genes putatively involved in TAG biosynthesis in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum was investigated, for the first time, with CO2 supplementation and low pH stress over the entire growth cycle. This molecular analysis was combined with physiochemical examination of the lipid accumulation in the micro-algal model. The results indicated that TAG accumulation was enhanced by CO2 supplementation and occurred predominantly during the stationary growth phase. The molecular analysis revealed increased expression for three genes of interest, encoding enzymes involved in the acyl dependent pathway: Glycerol-3-phosphate acyl transferase (GPAT) -7198728 (Phatrdraft_50031), lysophosphatidic acyl transferase (LPAAT) -7196550 (Phatrdraft_42446) and phosphotidic acid phosphatase (PAP) -7195747 (Phatrdraft_40261) in cultures supplemented with CO2. Under the same conditions up-regulation of a gene involved in the first committed step of fatty acid biosynthesis, Acetyl CoA carboxylase (ACC) -7194806 (Phatrdraft_54926) was also observed. Overall, this study provides further insight on the specific genes linked with increased TAG production in P. tricornutum and the identification of references genes suitable for normalisation of qPCR data across the growth cycle and under CO2 supplementation, thus providing the tools needed for future molecular studies of P. tricornutum lipid production.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Scottish Association for Marine Science ; European Regional Development Fund ; Highlands and Islands Enterprise ; Crown Estate ; Scottish Government ; Department of Enterprise ; Trade and Investment ; Department of Communications ; Energy and Natural Resources
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Algal biofuels