Microalgae are among the most productive microbial biofuel options. Many algae accumulate neutral lipids or triacylglycerol as storage products, and can be grown on alternative water sources and marginal lands. Additionally, these organisms naturally sequester carbon dioxide and help control greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere. Through a community systems biology approach, researchers hope to elucidate how critical interactions between microalgae and their bacterial partners influence algal biofuel production. The identity and function of associated bacteria in cultivated algal systems is a major gap in knowledge, particularly in the phycosphere, at the surface of microalgal cells. Identifying the factors that control biogeochemical fluxes in and out of algal cells, through the phycosphere, is critical to understand their responses to their environment that ultimately affects biofuel production. A predictive, model-based understanding of algae and their associated bacterial interactions is essential toward advancing algal biofuel production.
Proposer’s Name: Xavier Mayali, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory