Areas of Expertise
Green Algae Systems Biology for Biofuel Production
Green algae biofuels represent a promising alternative to fossil fuels. Lipid accumulation in green algae can be triggered by nutrient starvation, which impairs cellular growth and compromises biomass production. At the ISB, we are developing whole-cell gene regulatory and metabolic models of the model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to rationally design better strategies for lipid accumulation without affecting biomass productivity. Strategic partnership with Sapphire Energy Inc., world leaders of green crude production, facilitates the leverage of our model predictions into more efficient biofuel production outcomes in the field.
Adaptive Prediction Emergence in Microbes
The structure and predictability of coupled environmental factor changes has shaped the evolution of all organisms. Indeed, microorganisms have taken advantage of sequentially coupled changes in two or more environmental factors to evolve adaptive prediction as a strategy to improve fitness. There is growing concern in this regard that climate change and ocean acidification are dramatically altering the structure of environmental variations, potentially pushing some organisms and their associated communities to the brink of collapse and extinction. This concern partially stems from a lack of understanding of the rapidity with which microorganisms can evolve novel adaptive prediction by internalizing in their gene regulatory networks new patterns of coupled changes in environmental factors. At the ISB, we are investigating the dynamics of how model organisms can adapt to subsequent environments from prior cues.