Photobioreactor enables systems biology studies of cyanobacteria

Mar 08, 2013
A novel photobioreactor designed and developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is being used to identify growth limitations of cyanobacteria—important components of major ecosystems and potential catalysts for sustainable biofuel and chemical production.

A novel photobioreactor designed and developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for cultivating photosynthetic bacteria and microalgae will be featured in the journal Bioresource Technology. PNNL researchers are using the photobioreactor to identify conditions for achieving maximal growth and productivity of cyanobacteria, important components of major ecosystems and potential catalysts for sustainable biofuel and chemical production. Among its unique attributes, the bioreactor provides exquisite control over the intensity and spectrum of photosynthetically active wavelengths of light driving growth of the phototrophic cultures.

A bioreactor is a valuable tool for studying the structure of microbes, their behavior, and their metabolism. It provides continuous cultivation of microbes in a lab environment, giving scientists the opportunity to do a wide range of experiments. The new photobioreactor's capabilities allow more rigorous systems biology research on these photosynthetic microorganisms. It overcomes a major cultivation challenge by maintaining a defined light environment using a computer feedback loop to automatically adjust the light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to accommodate a culture's changing needs.

The ability to perform non-invasive rapid light measurements, real-time gas monitoring, and carry out programmable routines has transformed the standard chemostat, which is most commonly used for continuous cultivation, into an automated analytical device that avoids sampling bias. Large quantities of low-heterogeneity sample material for large-scale systems biology analyses can now be obtained using grown under repeatable, defined conditions.

Explore further: Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

More information: Melnicki, M. et al. 2013. Feedback-Controlled LED Photobioreactor for Photophysiological Studies of Cyanobacteria. Bioresource Technology (In Press). DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2013.01.079

Related Stories

Genome-scale model of cyanobacterium developed

Apr 11, 2012

( -- In an important step toward engineering bacteria to produce biofuel, scientists have developed one of the first global models for the nitrogen-fixing photosynthetic cyanobacterium Cyanothece ...

Fuel from food waste: bacteria provide power

Jul 17, 2008

Researchers have combined the efforts of two kinds of bacteria to produce hydrogen in a bioreactor, with the product from one providing food for the other. According to an article in the August issue of Microbiology Today, this t ...

Recommended for you

Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

Apr 24, 2015

Stem cells naturally cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes. Scientists have thought for years that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells ...

Improving accuracy in genome editing

Apr 23, 2015

Imagine a day when scientists are able to alter the DNA of organisms in the lab in the search for answers to a host of questions. Or imagine a day when doctors treat genetic disorders by administering drugs ...

Drug research enhanced by fragment screening libraries

Apr 22, 2015

Generation of fragment screening libraries could enhance the analysis and application of natural products for medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, according to Griffith University's Professor Ronald Quinn.

Decoding the cell's genetic filing system

Apr 22, 2015

A fully extended strand of human DNA measures about five feet in length. Yet it occupies a space just one-tenth of a cell by wrapping itself around histones—spool-like proteins—to form a dense hub of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.