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From Slime to Fuel and Medicine

Plant biologists and biochemists from University of California at Berkeley and other partners have produced a gold mine of data by sequencing the genome of a type of green algae called Chromochloris zofingiensis (C. zofingiensis) with funding from NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant program.

In the past decade, scientists have learned that the tiny, single-celled organism could be used as a source of sustainable biofuel. Algae absorb carbon dioxide and derive their energy from sunlight, and C. zofingiensis in particular can be cultivated on non-arable land and in wastewater. Harnessing it as a source for renewable and sustainable biofuels could lead to new ways to produce clean energy.

C. zofingiensis also shows promise as a health remedy. The alga is an abundant, natural source of astaxanthin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties which may be useful for treating certain diseases. Astaxanthin is being tested in treatments for cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, inflammatory diseases, diabetes and obesity.

Read more about the power of algae.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Agriculture systems and technology;
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment
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