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Rosetta and Seambiotic merge to work on ALGAE STRAIN SELECTION Posted by Sumukhi on Wed July 28 2010 09:26:09 AM 10

Strain selection is indeed a resource intensive exercise. There are so many issues for selecting the right algal strain for biofuel production, hence, Seambiotic, an company in Israel experts in algae- based abatement from their power plants have merged with a Rosetta Green, company with expertise in plant biotechnology and genomics.

Rosetta Green is a leading developer of microRNA-based diagnostics and therapeutics. The joint initiative of Rosetta Green and Seambiotic (Seambiotic) is first of its kind as it combines the unique capabilities of both companies in algal growth, processing and advanced biotechnology.

These two companies have now planned to work together in identifying the best strains for biofuel production. Rosetta Green will develop the best strain and Seambiotic will use its expertise and experience of large scale algae growth and commercial biofuel production.

The companies will initially focus on increasing the oil content of the algae and producing strains that can better withstand contamination. The companies have formed a joint steering committee that will be responsible for the management and operation of the collaboration.

Rosetta Green(https://www.rosettagreen.com/) is focused on the identification of unique genes that function as main control bio-switches; the company will make use of these technologies to develop algal strains with improved traits for biofuel production.

The proof of concept phase of the collaboration is anticipated to last about two years, during which the companies will explore the development of facilities for producing biofuel from algae on an industrial scale.

Algae Strain Selection:

Choosing a best from 30,000 algae strains for algae biofuel production is indeed a resource intensive exercise. Strain should be chosen based on the end-products available, energy yield, performance in mass culture and complexity of the algae cell structure.

Research is underway to determine an algae strain which meets all these parameters to produce biofuels. Hence, it is very critical to identify the right strain which can be easily cultivated, harvested and extracted.
For instance, if you are trying to produce biodiesel from algae, it is very important to identify the correct algae strain which has high-oil content, the habitat where it has to be grown should also be considered. Not only that the strain should be able to grow without contamination, should be adaptable to different temperature and tolerance of high oxygen levels. More importantly, the strain chosen should be economically viable for cultivation.

There are a few parameters which have to be given high consideration before choosing a particular strain. Firstly, the strain chosen should possess a high energy yield; the strain should have high levels of tolerance to extreme weather conditions. Not only the temperature, it should also have high adaptability to the total environment- pH, area where it is grown, salinity and so on. The strain chosen should be a competitive strain; it should not be a prey to the predators. If your strain has successfully met all this criteria, you can ago ahead cultivating the strain. But also make sure that the strain chosen has a less complex structure, as it easier to extract oil from it.

For instance, if you consider the strain - Botryococcus braunii is claimed to produce hydrocarbons which represent 86% of its dry weight. Though it produces a high oil content, it poses several disadvantages, it takes about 72 hours to reproduce. However, a few research studies claim that on producing optimum growth environment, the doubling time of this algae can be considerably reduced to about 48 hours.`When I say optimum growth environment it refers to ambient temperature of 23 degrees, a light intensity of 30-60 W/m2 right amount of salt, a photoperiod of 12 hours light and 12 hours dark. It is believed that if these parameters are provided B.braunii will double in two days.

Hence, choosing the right strain for biofuel production is a resource intensive task . However, a lot of research is being done to identify the best strain. If that is achieved, algae commercialization will only have few other challenges which can also be addressed to make algae fuels economically viable.