Cyanobacteria, Oil – and Cyanofuel?

  • Roda Fahad Al-Thani
  • Malcolm Potts


Global warming, the global carbon cycle, and current and future global trading in carbon credits (the carbon market), are beginning to dictate radical changes in human behaviour. In this context, the cyanobacteria figure prominently. Why? First, vast populations of ancient cyanobacteria and other microalgae are credited with the formation of Earth’s oil deposits. Second, extant populations of cyanobacteria, most conspicuously marine picoplankton (Chaps. 5 and 13) contribute significantly to the fixation of atmospheric carbon through their photosynthesis. Third, spills from the commercial trafficking of oil often accumulate in coastal regions where cyanobacterial mats are prevalent (Chap. 4), and this led to the examination of how these microorganisms participate in mitigation of the effects of oil pollution. Fourth, cyanobacteria may be a viable source of biofuel. As such, the rise of cyanobacteria, cyanobacteria and oil pollution, and cyanobacteria as a source of biofuel (cyanofuel) can be equated, respectfully, with Earth’s past, present and future. In this chapter we emphasize connections between all three through consideration of cyanobacterial physiology, ecology and molecular biology. We wish to emphasize the persistence of cyanobacteria through geological time and their tenacious hold on carbon.


Hydrocarbon Degradation Ebro Delta Cyanobacterial Community Microcoleus Chthonoplastes Alternative Electron Flow 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The work of the authors on cyanobacteria is supported through grants from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) of Qatar Foundation, National Priorities Research Program (grant NPRP 27-6-7-24), Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP 07-020-1-004) from QNRF and an internal award from the College of Arts and Sciences of Qatar University. The views in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of either QNRF or QU. We thank students, staff and faculty in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences for invigorating field trips in Qatar, help in collecting samples and technical support and isolation of strains.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, College of Arts and SciencesQatar UniversityDohaQatar

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