[Taiwan] The 10th Asia Pacific Marine Biotechnology Conference opening ceremony was successfully held in the conference hall of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan. The chair of the organizing committee, Professor Jen-Leih Wu gave the opening speech and expressed his warmth welcome for the participants from all over the world.
Being the first speaker of the Algal Biotechnology session, Professor P. van der Meer from the Pan-American Marine Biotechnology Association of Canada presented several updated studies on the red algal genetics and genomics. Among which are the generation of pigmented mutants used as genetic markers to examine aspects of the life history of Palmaria palmata, and meiosis and cell division in germinating Porphyra purpurea conchospores.
In addition, Professor Van der Meer stated that successful and reproducible transformation systems for red algae were only demonstrated in a few species such as Cyanidioschyzon merolae, Porphyridium, and Pyropia yezoensis. Several sequencing methods were also introduced to determine plastid, mitochondrial, and nuclear genome of red algae.
The second presentation was conducted by Professor Stephen P. Mayfield, the Director of San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology. Professor Mayfield is also well-known as a scientific founder of Sapphire Energy, a premier algae company developing biofuel production by metabolic engineering of algae and photosynthetic bacteria. Professor Mayfield’s team is currently developing genetic and synthetic biology tools to enable the production of designer algae as a biofuel and bioproducts platform.
“For the last 400 million years, the earth accumulated fossil oil from dead algae, and coal from dead plants, and we are going to burn all of that in about 200 years.” said Stephen. “The era of cheap oil is over, and the oil price will never go back to USD 20 per barrel.”
Using synthetic biology, the team demonstrated the production of biofuel from algae. However, the algae biofuel production was in an uneconomical scale.
In synthetic biology, eukaryotic algae also act as a superb biological factory for the manufacturing of bioproducts other than biofuels. When a medicinal compound is produced by genetically engineered prokaryotic host such as E. coli, it requires expensive extraction and purification processes which eventually bring up the cost. An edible eukaryotic algae producing and carrying these medicines such as antibody or vaccines, are readily to be ingested orally once they are harvested. This would cut down the cost, making medicine to be more affordable and always available.
The conference presentation was followed by Professor Hong-Nong Chou from the Institute of Fishery Science of National Taiwan University. Professor Chou explained the use of filamentous tissue cultures of red algae as the source of pigments and nutraceutical compounds. Using tissue culture techniques and photobioreactor technology, filamentous tissues of red algae were produced at large scale and harvested for its fluorescent pigments known as phycobiliproteins, which are useful in cell cytometry, immuno-fluorescent staining, and also act as food colorants.
Algal biotechnology is one of the eleven topic sessions of this conference. It was estimated that more than 250 participants and speakers attended this bi-yearly event.
Exclusively reported by Algae World News