Recent Advances in Picochlorum renovo Strain Development

Research output: NRELPresentation


Microalgae are amongst the most efficient phototrophs for the reduction of CO2 to industrially relevant products and product intermediates. We have recently identified a novel species in the genus Picochlorum (Picochlorum renovo) that demonstrates high areal productivity (>30 g/m2/day), high temperature and salinity tolerances, and rapid growth rate (-2 hour doubling time): attributes essential for economically viable industrial scale deployment for low value commodities (e.g. fuel and chemical precursors). Following screening of >300 algal isolates to identify Picochlorum renovo, we developed baseline genetic tools necessary for genetic engineering of the nucleus and chloroplast, and further built upon these tools to establish a protein secretion system. We have also deployed genetic engineering tools to establish the utilization of phosphite as a selectable marker in the chloroplast and nuclear genomes, while concurrently acting as a potential crop protection strategy. We have further implemented these tools to enable the utilization of formate as a novel carbon source for phototroph cultivation. Explicitly, formate toxicity was assayed, followed by introduction of a formate dehydrogenase to allow formate utilization. Cultures supplemented with formate grew to a higher density when cultivated under ambient CO2, highlighting the potential for this strategy to increase growth. Additionally, we have established a synthetic transcription factor and core promoter system which lays the foundation for tunable, high expression engineering in the nuclear genome, and potentially can be applied for universal algal genetic engineering. Finally, current work has focused on direct photosynthetic production of chemicals, and generation of mutant libraries. Combined, our work has established a robust genetic toolbox for Picochlorum renovo, which we have deployed for strain development purposes to introduce biotechnologically relevant traits.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts (AlgalBBB 2023), 12-14 June 2023, Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2700-86558


  • algae
  • carbonic anhydrase
  • formate
  • picochlorum
  • secretion


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