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Algal Whole Genome Knockout Collection

Project Advisor
Professor Buz Barstow - bmb35@cornell.edu

Project Area/Concentration
interaction of systems and synthetic biology and sustainable energy, background in systems, synthetic or molecular biology; mathematics; physics; or electrical or computer engineering

Project Description
Photosynthesis gives a first draft template for capturing sunlight and storing it with CO2 as biomass at enormous scale, at low or even negative cost, with almost no human intervention. However, this scale belies its inefficiency (? 0.1% on average). Micro-algae are capable of the most efficient form of photosynthesis (conversion of CO2 and sunlight to carbohydrates) yet seen in nature. However, this efficiency is far from its theoretical maximum, nor has it been fully leveraged for the production of biofuels. A big barrier to improving algal photosynthesis further is the lack of genetic tools to characterize and then engineer the genomes of micro-algae. We have developed Knockout Sudoku, a new technology for rapid, ultra-low-cost construction of whole genome knockout collections: a collection of single-gene knockout mutants for every non-essential in an organism’s genome. We want to construct a whole genome knockout collection for micro-algae to fully leverage their potential.

Possible Courses

Course number Course title
AEP 4210 Mathematical Physics I
AEP 4220 Mathematical Physics II
BEE 3600 Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering
BME 6130 Engineering the Microbiome