Jake Valenzuela



Postdoctoral Fellow
PhD (Biochemistry) Montana State University
Areas of Expertise
Biofuel, Phytoplankton Physiology, Cell and Molecular Biology

Research Highlights

Ocean Acidification and Diatoms

Climate change models continue to project end of the century marks of high atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). The world’s oceans act as carbon sinks for CO2 which in turn decreases its pH, termed ocean acidification. Each year diatoms account for up to 40% of the total marine primary productivity. It is imperative we understand the unicellular microalgae’s response to ocean acidification in order to more accurately model the consequences of climate change to our oceans. Historically tipping points have been identified post hoc, we aim to project bifurcation points in diatom ecosystems in an effort to stave off events of no return. We employ the model diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana as a “canary’ for possible tipping point events. Results have shown different population trajectories and phenotypic plasticity in response to high carbon environments. Such information will go a long way towards describing the future niche breadth of organisms as a consequence of climate change.

Green Algae Biofuels

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a model green microalgae that produces lipid during nutrient stress. The bio-oil produced can be utilized for transportation fuel and energy production. Using systems biology we aim to uncover the regulatory and signaling networks of C. reinhardtii during state transitions from growth (biomass accumulation) to lipid accumulation. Such insights will be crucial for the rewiring networks for the produce a robust, high yield, biofuel production strain alga.