Lipid metabolism and potentials of biofuel and high added-value oil production in red algae
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Biomass production is currently explored in microalgae, macroalgae and land plants. Microalgal biofuel development has been performed mostly in green algae. In the Japanese tradition, macrophytic red algae such as Pyropia yezoensis and Gelidium crinale have been utilized as food and industrial materials. Researches on the utilization of unicellular red microalgae such as Cyanidioschyzon merolae and Porphyridium purpureum started only quite recently. Red algae have relatively large plastid genomes harboring more than 200 protein-coding genes that support the biosynthetic capacity of the plastid. Engineering the plastid genome is a unique potential of red microalgae. In addition, large-scale growth facilities of P. purpureum have been developed for industrial production of biofuels. C. merolae has been studied as a model alga for cell and molecular biological analyses with its completely determined genomes and transformation techniques. Its acidic and warm habitat makes it easy to grow this alga axenically in large scales. Its potential as a biofuel producer is recently documented under nitrogen-limited conditions. Metabolic pathways of the accumulation of starch and triacylglycerol and the enzymes involved therein are being elucidated. Engineering these regulatory mechanisms will open a possibility of exploiting the full capability of production of biofuel and high added-value oil. In the present review, we will describe the characteristics and potential of these algae as biotechnological seeds.
KeywordsCyanidioschyzon merolae Lipid Triacylglycerol Porphyridium purpureum
The studies in the authors’ laboratory have been supported in part by the CREST project on algal biotechnology from Japan Science and Technology Agency.
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