GRANT AWARD: Next-generation biofuels with modified algae


Graham Peers, associate professor, Department of Biology, College of Natural Sciences


Wen Zhou, assistant professor, Department of Statistics

Other collaborators

J. Craig Venter Institute (lead); University of California San Diego; Vanderbilt University


Department of Energy Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research Genomic Science Program

Grant period and amount

Five years, $10.7 million total. $1.99 million to CSU.

Grant title

“Design, Synthesis, and Validation: Genome Scale Optimization of Energy Flux through Compartmentalized Metabolic Networks in a Model Photosynthetic Eukaryotic Microbe”

Project description

The aim of this project is to increase oil, or lipid production, which will enable next-generation biofuels and bioproducts. The scientists will work to optimize metabolic networks in photosynthetic microalgae called diatoms. Diatoms are a globally abundant class of algae responsible for about one-quarter of all carbon fixed on Earth.

Peers’ goal is to better understand how diatoms process light energy and carbon dioxide to biomass. His lab will insert novel biochemical pathways into artificial chromosomes to manipulate the algae cells’ energy and carbon flows. The lab will also focus on strategies for biocontainment of genetically modified organisms.

Assistant Professor of Statistics Wen Zhou will develop models to accurately predict the energy pathways of the edited diatom genomes.

More information

J. Craig Venter Institute news release