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Science. 2001 Jun 15;292(5524):2073-5.

Trophic conversion of an obligate photoautotrophic organism through metabolic engineering.

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  • 1Martek Biosciences Corp., 6480 Dobbin Road, Columbia, MD 21045, USA.


Most microalgae are obligate photoautotrophs and their growth is strictly dependent on the generation of photosynthetically derived energy. We show that the microalga Phaeodactylum tricornutum can be genetically engineered to thrive on exogenous glucose in the absence of light through the introduction of a gene encoding a glucose transporter (glut1 or hup1). This demonstrates that a fundamental change in the metabolism of an organism can be accomplished through the introduction of a single gene. This also represents progress toward the use of fermentation technology for large-scale commercial exploitation of algae by reducing limitations associated with light-dependent growth.

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