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: Moving single cells around—accurately and cheaply

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

(Phys.org) -- 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

Treating pain by blocking the 'chili-pepper receptor'

4 hours ago

Biting into a chili pepper causes a burning spiciness that is irresistible to some, but intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper's effect are using their findings to develop a new drug ...

Moving single cells around—accurately and cheaply

Aug 19, 2014

Scientists at the Houston Methodist Research Institute have figured out how to pick up and transfer single cells using a pipette—a common laboratory tool that's been tweaked slightly. They describe this ...

The difficult question of Clostridium difficile

Aug 19, 2014

The bacterium Clostridium difficile causes antibiotic-related diarrhoea and is a growing problem in the hospital environment and elsewhere in the community. Understanding how the microbe colonises the hu ...

User comments : 0