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Application of chemical communication principles

Application of chemical communication principles

The project develops a chemical toolbox to manipulate and regulate open pond cultures.

Project leader

Dr Gary Caldwell

Sponsors

Carbon Trust

Description

Growing algae in large ponds open to the environment presents distinct challenges for the algal biofuels industry.

Some of the major challenges relate to the introduction of undesirable organisms. These are as follows:

  • predators
  • pathogens
  • colonisation by unwanted algae species that may out compete the targeted culture species

Managing the pond environment can prove both problematic and expensive.

Microalgae communicate by releasing chemical messengers. Algae detect these signals in the water.

This chemical communication warns of disease and predation threats and stressful conditions. These stressful conditions include nutrient deficiency or high temperature.

We have developed an innovative approach. This approach utilises algal chemical communication to control and regulate the culture environment.

This provides a manageable pond culture environment for sustained algal growth.