Structure, function, and regulation of galectins
My research aims to understand lipid synthesis, turnover, and lipid body biogenesis processes in microalgae, and to rationally engineer algae for biofuel production and bioremediation.
Lipid synthesis, turnover, and lipid body biogenesis: Molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating lipid metabolism in microalgae are poorly understood. We address these mechanisms by using systems biology and molecular biology approaches. We use the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and the marine oleaginous microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica as model systems. Our goal is to advance knowledge on fundamental aspects of photosynthetic carbon allocation and lipid metabolism in microalgae, particularly the molecular mechanisms regulating triacylglycerol synthesis and lipid body biogenesis.
Metabolic engineering for biofuel production and bioremediation: Microalgal biomass is a promising feedstock for fuels and chemicals. The low biomass and lipid productivity obtained from native algal strains is a major challenge for algae-based biofuel production. To improve biomass and lipid yields, we have developed tools and strategies to improve the phenotype of selected algal strains. Genome and transcriptome sequencing data together with proteome and lipidome profiling of Nannochloropsis and Chlamydomonas in response to stress induction will enable us identify putative regulatory factors and rate-limiting steps for triacylglycerol synthesis and storage. The knowledge learned will be applied to engineer oleaginous microalgae for maximum production of biomass and bioproducts. Promising algal strains will be tested in advanced photobioreactors using an integrated approach for carbon capture, wastewater remediation, and biofuel production.
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