In Iowa, researchers at Iowa State University have developed a method to increase the rate of biomass production in algae by 50 to 80 percent. The breakthrough comes from expressing certain genes in algae that increase the amount of photosynthesis in the plant, which leads to more biomass. In environments that have relatively low levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), two genes in algae, LCIA and LCIB, are expressed to help capture and then channel more carbon dioxide from the air into the cells to keep the algae alive and growing.
The researchers developed a technique to express the genes in high carbon dioxide environments. This patent-pending technology is available for licensing from the Iowa State University Research Foundation.