Scientists find a “switch” to increase starch accumulation in algae

November 4, 2018 |

In Japan, results from a collaborative study by Tokyo Tech and Tohoku University raise prospects for large-scale production of algae-derived starch after scientists found a “switch” controlling the level of starch content in algae.

The study focused on the unicellular red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae and researchers demonstrated that starch content could be dramatically increased in C. merolae through inactivation of TOR (target of rapamycin), a protein kinase1 known to play an important role in cell growth. They observed a notable increase in the level of starch 12 hours after inactivation of TOR through exposure to rapamycin, and this led to a remarkable ten-fold increase after 48 hours. Compared with the control, inactivation of TOR resulted in an approximately ten-fold increase in starch content in C. merolae after 48 hours.

Importantly, the study details a mechanism underlying this profound increase in starch content. The mechanism will be of immense interest to a wide range of industries seeking to scale up biofuel and value-added biochemicals production.

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Category: Research

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