Molecular Toolkit for Diatom Genetic Engineering

Diatoms are unicellular photosynthetic microbes that also happen to dominate many nutrient induced ocean and freshwater algal blooms, and a substantial proportion of existing oil reserves are originally derived of million-year-old diatom blooms. Not surprisingly, their propensity for fast growth and high yields, diatoms are both ecologically important and promising for biotechnology. The genome engineering resources for diatoms lag far behind those for yeast or E. coli.

Leveraging our recent developments of diatom artificial chromosomes, we are isolating and characterizing diatom centromeres, promoters, terminators, and other genic elements. The ultimate goal is to provide the community with a molecular toolkit for diatom genetic engineering that performs reliably and predictably.  A parallel project with the POUC is developing a non-PCR based recombinatorial assembly pipeline that democratizes access to our characterized genetic parts.


This work is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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