Bielefeld University - Center for Biotechnology

Universitaetsstr. 27
33615 Bielefeld

PI: Prof. Olaf Kruse

PI: Prof. Olaf Kruse
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Prof. Kruse is one of the leading experts in microalgae photosynthesis, biotechnology and molecular biology. Over recent years, he has focused his research on the development of environmentally friendly bio-production systems, based on high-efficiency single celled green algae. In 2006 he took responsibility as the Head of Life, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg/France. Back at Bielefeld University he built up the Algae Biotechnology & Bioenergy Group at the Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec) focusing on molecular aspects of light to biomass and energy conversion and the establishment of Synthetic Biology in microalgae for the application as green cell factories in industrial biotechnology. Olaf Kruse is Full Professor at the Department of Biology and Scientific Director of the CeBiTec. He published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers with a H index of 36.
Prof. Kruse, representing partner UniBi, will be acting as the coordinator of the collaborative MERIT project and will furthermore be responsible as WP2 leader for the genetic engineering approaches aiming at an improved conversion of carbon dioxide into various diterpenoids, thereby generating versatile photoautotrophic chasses for the sustainable production of these high value compounds. He will also be involved in WP1, which is dedicated to the establishment of a microalgal synthetic biology platform containing the DNA parts required for the type of strain engineering to be conducted in WP2. Data management will be centralized at UniBi and Olaf Kruse will chair the intellectual property rights advisory group.

University of Cambridge - Plant Sciences

Downing Street, CB2 3EA, CB2 3EA
United Kingdom

PI: Prof. Alison Smith

PI: Prof. Alison Smith
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Alison Smith is Professor of Plant Biochemistry in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK, where she teaches undergraduates in Biological Natural Sciences, and runs a research group funded by UK Research Councils (BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC), Innovate UK, and the Leverhulme Trust, as well as by EU FP7 awards.
Her research interests are focussed around the metabolism of plants, algae and bacteria, in particular of vitamins and cofactors, and of lipid precursors for chemicals and biofuels.
Current work focuses on developing strategies for metabolic engineering of algae using synthetic biology approaches. In addition, she has been instrumental in advocating the use of microbial consortia for optimizing growth of dense algal cultures for industrial cultivation. Smith is a founding member of the Algal Biotechnology Consortium in Cambridge, and has established an Algal Innovation Centre to allow scale up from the laboratory of algae producing high value products.
She participates in several advisory and strategy panels including the BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology Strategy Panel, and several Networks in Industrial Biotechnology. She is on the Steering Panel of the European Algal Biomass Association (EABA), whose aim is to facilitate the development of the nascent algal biotechnology industry in Europe. She is the author of over 150 articles and reviews, with an H index of 46.
Alison Smith will lead the workpackage 1, and will be responsible mainly for implementing the approach with the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, but also will be involved in chloroplast engineering in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. As well as the molecular biology and algal transformation tasks, WP1 will also establish (1) a robust and easily accessible registry of parts to allow exchange between consortium partners, and ultimately to the wider algal biotechnology community; and (2) methods to allow rapid screening of transformants for product formation, currently the major bottleneck in the process.

Wageningen University - Bioprocess Engineering

Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 16
6708 PB Wageningen
PI: Prof. Rene Wijffels
PI: Prof. Rene Wijffels
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Prof. Rene Wijffels obtained his BSc in Food Engineering, MSc at Environmental Technology and Ph.D at Bioprocess Engineering. In 2005 he was appointed as professor in marine biotechnology and since 2007, he is the chair holder at Bioprocess Engineering at Wageningen University.
In the past years, a large range of EU projects were started under his supervision moreover he has a worldwide scientific and industrial network in the field of microalgae.
His research area in bioprocess engineering encompasses everything between substrate (e.g. light, CO2, sugar, lignocellulose) and product (food, pharmaceuticals, fuels, platform chemicals). That includes pretreatment of substrates, bioconversion and downstream processing, all from lab to pilot scale. Drivers are high quality products and high efficiency conversions with high volumetric productivity. Within the chair group Bioprocess Engineering, there are four research themes: microbial biotechnology, algal biotechnology, pharmaceutical biotechnology and biorefinery.
Prof. Wijffels has 249 publications in international refereed scientific journals according to WoS and a H-index of 45.

Prof. Rene Wijffels, representing Wageningen University, will be work package leader of WP3 with the responsibility to develop a bioprocess for production and in situ extraction from genetically modified Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Phaeodactylum tricornutum.

First of all, the proof of principle to produce and extract the terpenoids will be shown after which productivity and extraction rates will be maximized. Ideally microalgae can be used as a catalyst which produces terpenoids at high rate and almost do not grow. Conditions at which this takes place will be tested. This will be integrated with in situ extraction. Different solvents will be tested in their extraction capacity and toxicity for the microalgae. The final result is a process in which productivity and rate of extraction are maximized under simulated outdoor conditions.
The process developed will be tested at pilot scale at the pilot facility AlgaePARC. For that a reactor and extraction unit will be constructed and tested.
In order to understand the effect of process conditions on the physiology of the organisms and the production rate of the terpenoids, detailed metabolic and transcriptomic analysis will be performed.

Universidad Nacional del Litoral - Facultad de Bioquímica y Ciencias Bológicas

Paraje el Pozo s/n
3000 Santa fe
PI: Prof. Josue Heinrich
PI: Prof. Josue Heinrich
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Prof. Heinrich Josué leads the Bioprocess Engineering Group (GiiB), a I+D laboratory with double institutional dependences: the Area of Process Engineering of the Institute for the Technological Development of the Chemical Industry (CONICET – UNL) and the Laboratory of Biotechnological Operations and Processes of the Department of Biochemistry and Biological Sciences (UNL). Dr.
Heinrich has seven years of experience working with microalgae related projects. He has been the director of several research projects related with microalgae biomass production and processing. Currently, Dr. Heinrich is the director of three PhD thesis, one of them related with photobioreactor design and optimization. Dr. Heinrich is responsible for the courses Biotechnological Operations and Processes I (Bio-reactors), and Biotechnological Operations and Processes II (Downstream bio-separations and purifications). Both are curricular fourth-year courses required for the Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology of the Department of Biochemistry and Biological Sciences (FBCB) of the National University of Litoral (UNL).
Prof. Heinrich´s task within WP3 of the MERIT project is to develop and validate a methodology that allows assessing and comparing the performance of microalgal cultures in the different photobioreactor options, allowing a systematic design of large scale rectors.
During cultivation, microalgae travel through the different parts of the reactor immersed in the liquid in which they are suspended. During their trajectory, they visit different zones and components of the photobioreactor. In each part of the reactor, the culture conditions change due to the process characteristics and to the configuration of the photobioreactor.
The objective is to design and built an experimental device, to perform laboratory scale cultures, under outdoor simulated conditions, taking into account the variation in time of the culture conditions: light exposure, temperature, pH, O2 and CO2 concentrations, etc. The experimental methodology will involve: (i) to adopt a culturing system, contemplating the different configuration, arrangements, geometries and operative conditions, for the available PBR options: open ponds, tubular photobioreactors, flat panels, thin layers, vertical column, etc. (ii) to disaggregate the culturing system in its different elements, considering the variances in the liquid-gas mass transfer regimes, the heat exchange capacities, the mixing rate and the radiation field distribution inside each component. (iii) to characterize and model the local culture conditions inside the different elements that compose the PBR and considering the resident time in each component. (iv) to design and perform laboratory scale cultures under outdoor simulated conditions to assess the culture productivity and the biomass composition for the selected photobioreactor configuration.

Spicer Consulting Limited – Algenuity

Eden Laboratory, Broadmead Road
MK43 9ND Stewartby
United Kingdom
PI: Dr. Andrew Spicer
PI: Dr. Andrew Spicer
Logo Spicer Consulting Limited – Algenuity
Dr Spicer leads Algenuity, a startup biotechnology organization that operates within a UK-based SME, Spicer Consulting Ltd, of which he is a Director, leading strategy development and change management. Dr Spicer also sits on several Advisory boards related to microalgal biotechnology within the UK and Europe including: Phyconet, a UK government-funded network in Industrial Biotechnology focused on microalgae, and the Oils By Design strategic research program as well as acting as an elected member of the European Algal Biomass Association Steering Committee. He has served in a consultancy capacity for Proctor & Gamble and Novozymes. His academic career was focused upon mammalian cell & developmental biology particularly in the area of connective tissue and tissue engineering with application of advanced genetic manipulation technologies. He has a H index of 32.
Algenuity is a recognized global leader in the development of technologies and tools within microalgal strain engineering for industrial application. Algenuity operates as a wholly owned algal biotechnology division within the SME, Spicer Consulting Limited, UK and includes a scientific team of nine scientists who represent experts in the field of eukaryotic microalgae strain engineering and biology.
To date, Algenuity has successfully developed a microalgal synthetic biology engineering platform that enables rapid parts development, pathway engineering and strain optimisation. This platform has been successfully applied to Phaeodactylum tricornutum for the production of triterpenoids, through the FP7 project, TriForC. The knowledge that has been acquired through TriForC can be extended and capitalised upon within this project.
Algenuity will play a key role within the synthetic biology platform in WP’s 1 and 2, particularly within strain engineering of Phaeodactylum tricornutum where Algenuity’s existing syn bio capabilities are strong. Auxotrophic markers will be developed and the Algem labscale photobioreactor will be used to assess all engineered strains as well as to develop an understanding of the external variables within a cultivation environment that might interact with the genetics of the engineered strains such that maximal productivities can be achieved and scale-up enabled in WP3.
Algenuity scientists will work closely with the Smith lab (UCAM) to achieve the project deliverables and will continue to bring innovation into these work packages through new synthetic biology parts development, thinking and application.