4-01 Strategies for improving the photon usage efficiency and productivity of microalgal cultures

This talk was given by Zoee Gokhale from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. It was really cool in that it talked about a subject we heard of in class, the antenna complex on a plant. She studied the effects of varying size of antenna complex chloroplast and the effect that had on productivity. Currently algae are not productive when high light conditions are present. She found that if you shrink the antenna complex size, as measured by the chorlophyll A to B ratio, then you have more productive algae. This effect only works if you increase the pool depth size so cholorphyll can take full advantage of the deep penetrating light rays. Additionally she found that large antenna complexes and shallow pools are best in medium to low light conditions. Based on this data her lab is working on engineering a switch in plants so they can self regulate and shift according the the light conditions. The one point she didn’t make is how the pool depth would shift given the varying light conditions.

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