Development of a High-Productivity, Halophilic, Thermotolerant Microalga Picochlorum renovo

Michael Guarnieri, Lukas Dahlin, Alida Gerritsen, Stefanie Van Wychen, Jeffrey Linger, Yuliya Kunde, Blake Hovde, Shawn Starkenburg, Matthew Posewitz, Calvin Henard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus Citations


Microalgae are promising biocatalysts for applications in sustainable fuel, food, and chemical production. Here, we describe culture collection screening, down-selection, and development of a high-productivity, halophilic, thermotolerant microalga, Picochlorum renovo. This microalga displays a rapid growth rate and high diel biomass productivity (34 g m−2 day−1), with a composition well-suited for downstream processing. P. renovo exhibits broad salinity tolerance (growth at 107.5 g L−1 salinity) and thermotolerance (growth up to 40 °C), beneficial traits for outdoor cultivation. We report complete genome sequencing and analysis, and genetic tool development suitable for expression of transgenes inserted into the nuclear or chloroplast genomes. We further evaluate mechanisms of halotolerance via comparative transcriptomics, identifying novel genes differentially regulated in response to high salinity cultivation. These findings will enable basic science inquiries into control mechanisms governing Picochlorum biology and lay the foundation for development of a microalga with industrially relevant traits as a model photobiology platform.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number388
Number of pages9
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-74332


  • ALPL
  • chloroplast
  • genetic engineering
  • halophile
  • halotolerance
  • high productivity
  • microalgae
  • nuclear
  • picochlorum
  • thermotolerance
  • transformation


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