Photosynthetic Bio-Manufacturing in Green Algae

Stephen Mayfield, Food and Fuel for the 21st Century

Wednesday October 7, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m

EBUII, Room 479


ABSTRACT: Fuel, food, and all biological products are simply different forms of chemical energy, and as such are closely related. All of these products are ultimately derived from photosynthesis, the process by which sunlight energy is converted to chemical energy. Over the last 100 years we have exploited cheap fossil fuels to drive unprecedented economic and agricultural growth, but in so doing we have released sequestered CO2 into the atmosphere, which is now beginning to impact our climate. In addition, fossil fuel reserves are finite, and we are now starting to see the initial signs of depletion of these reserves, including the rising cost of fuel and food. Eukaryotic algae offer tremendous potential for the large scale production of biofuels and bio-products as algae require only sunlight as an energy source and sequester CO2 during the production of biomass, and algae can be much more efficient then terrestrial plants in fixing CO2 and producing biomass. Using ³designed for purpose² photosynthetic organisms we have the opportunity to develop production platforms for fuel, food, and biomaterials that have unmatched efficiencies and productivities. We are developing the genetic and synthetic biology tools to enable the production of designer algae as bio-products platform. The challenges, potential, and some early successes of synthetic biology in algae for the production of high  value products will be discussed.


BIO: Stephen Mayfield is director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, and a Co-director of the Food and Fuel for the 21st Century organized research unit at UC San Diego. His research focuses on the molecular genetics of green algae, and on the production of high value recombinant proteins and biofuel molecules using algae as a production platform. Steve received BS degrees in Biochemistry and Plant Biology from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, and a PhD in Molecular Genetics from UC Berkeley.  Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Geneva Switzerland he returned to California as an assistant professor at the Scripps Research Institute where he remained for 22 years becoming the Associate Dean of Biology before joining UC San Diego in 2009.  In addition to running his research group and university research centers, Steve also founded Rincon Pharmaceutical in 2005, Sapphire Energy in 2007, developing biofuels in algae and photosynthetic bacteria, and Triton Health and Nutrition in 2012, a company developing animal and human nutraceuticals.

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