New Process for Microalgal Separation by Shape
(Algae Industry Magazine) Researchers from UCLA and the University of Tokyo have demonstrated a new capability to sort microalgae cells by their shape, creating a baseline of uniform cells for a large range of research, industrial and clinical applications. While traditional microalgal separation methods are based on porous filters or sedimentation in which cells settle due to gravity, this is the first shape-based separation that has been made possible. The research was published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Euglena gracilis (E. gracilis), a single-celled eukaryotic microalga, has been proposed as one of the most attractive microalgal species for biodiesel and biomass production. Like many algae, E. gracilis exhibits a number of shapes, ranging from nearly spherical to elongated cylinders. Shape is an important biomarker, serving as an indicator of biological clock status, photosynthetic and respiratory capacity, cell-cycle phase, and environmental conditions.
The ability to obtain cell populations with synchronized shape has significant implications for applications in biological research and industrial processes where cell populations with uniform properties are desired. It is envisioned that this platform, integrating with metabolic and genetic engineering technologies, can be used as a powerful tool to develop enhanced E. gracilis cells as well as other microalgal species with desirable properties, such as rapid growth rate and high lipid content. READ MORE