Public Lecture Abstract: Algal Biofuels and Microbial Diversity

Algal Biofuels and Microbial Diversity: Alkaline Geothermal Systems of Yellowstone

Presented by Professor Brent M. Peyton of Montana State University

24th Mar 2017 8:30 – 9:15 am

ARRC, 26 Dick Perry Ave, Kensington WA 6151

Geothermal environments are very small in size and distribution on Earth, however, they play strategic role in the pursuit of novel biocatalytic activity for industrial and energy related processes. Hot springs are natural ecosystems where microorganisms have adapted to high temperatures and unique geochemical environments, over centuries, making them ideal to study for understanding extreme ecosystems.  Thermal features are also “target” environments for isolating novel and robust microorganisms for biotechnology and energy applications, including thermostable enzymes (e.g., Taq polymerase), for the degradation of biomass, and the production of lipases, and for algal biofuels.

This presentation will include a brief overview of Yellowstone National Park (YNP), its thermal areas, and results of interdisciplinary geochemical and microbial investigations focused on characterization of unique alkaline microbial communities, and microbes for enzyme discovery.

The second half of the talk is focused on algal biofuel applications – from initial isolation in YNP to characterization of growth properties and lipid production.  I will also discuss a patented bicarbonate “trigger” for stimulating lipid accumulation in a number of green algae and diatoms, and discuss recent results and future directions in our algal biofuels work.

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