Venter on super-algae

It will be interesting to see whether his team is using genes from fresh or salt-water organisms, macro-algae or phytoplankton… Perhaps in a closed system with no competition, a pure culture of genetically-modified cells really could simple excrete the lipids. It certainly would be nice to simply skim the lipids off the water surface without damaging the productive cells instead of struggling to extract the lipids from the cells as grazers like copepods must do…
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Synthetic Genomics’ team already has genetically optimized an algae species so that almost half of the organism’s mass consists of lipids, a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols and other energy storage compounds. Now the team is enhancing the organism further to make even more lipids. Such algae would serve as a biofuel feedstock.

Craig Venter Has Algae Biofuel in Synthetic Genomics’ Pipeline
Venter said “the new algae” is something that “secretes whatever lipid size we want to engineer. This changes algae from what everybody’s been looking at as a farming problem into a manufacturing problem. So we are trying to get algae to go into a continuous production mode, pumping up these lipids, that come out in a pure form.”
Genetically engineered algae needs sunlight and carbon dioxide, and then secretes a liquid that “can basically be used right away as biodiesel,” according to Venter.
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