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Biotechnol Biofuels. 2019 Jan 12;12:14. doi: 10.1186/s13068-018-1332-4. eCollection 2019.

Characterization of Fatty Acid Exporters involved in fatty acid transport for oil accumulation in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

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1Research Center of Bioremediation and Bioenergy, College of Resources and Environment, Southwest University, Beibei, Chongqing, 400715 People's Republic of China.
2Academy of Agricultural Science, Southwest University, Beibei, Chongqing, 400715 People's Republic of China.
3National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, 430070 China.
Contributed equally



In the past few decades, microalgae biofuel has become one of the most interesting sources of renewable energy. However, the higher cost of microalgae biofuel compared to that of petroleum prevented microalgae biofuel production. Therefore, the research on increasing lipid productivity from microalgae becomes more important. The lipid production source, triacylglycerol biosynthesis in microalgae requires short chain fatty acids as substrates, which are synthesized in chloroplasts. However, the transport mechanism of fatty acids from microalgae chloroplasts to cytosol remains unknown.


cDNAs from two homologs of the Arabidopsis fatty acid exporter 1 (FAX1) were cloned from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and were named crfax1 and crfax2. Both CrFAXs were involved in fatty acid transport, and their substrates were mainly C16 and C18 fatty acids. Overexpression of both CrFAXs increased the accumulation of the total lipid content in algae cells, and the fatty acid compositions were changed under normal TAP or nitrogen deprivation conditions. Overexpression of both CrFAXs also increased the chlorophyll content. The MGDG content was decreased but the TAG, DAG, DGDG and other lipid contents were increased in CrFAXs overexpression strains.


These results reveal that CrFAX1 and CrFAX2 were involved in mediating fatty acid export for lipids biosynthesis in C. reinhardtii. In addition, overexpression of both CrFAXs obviously increased the intracellular lipid content, especially the triacylglycerol content in microalgae, which provides a potential technology for the production of more biofuels using microalgae.


Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; Fatty acid exporter; Gene overexpression; Transcriptomic analysis; Triacylglycerol

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