Metabolic engineering of lipid catabolism increases microalgal lipid accumulation without compromising growth
As global CO2 levels rise and fossil fuel abundance decreases, the development of alternative fuels becomes increasingly imperative. Biologically derived fuels, and specifically those from microalgae, are promising sources, but improvements throughout the production process are required to reduce cost. Increasing lipid yields in microalgae without compromising growth has great potential to improve economic feasibility. We report that disrupting lipid catabolism is a practical approach to increase lipid yields in microalgae without affecting growth or biomass. We developed transgenic strains through targeted metabolic engineering that show increased lipid accumulation, biomass, and lipid yields. The target enzyme's ubiquity suggests that this approach can be applied broadly to improve the economic feasibility of algal biofuels in other groups of microalgae.