Ahlem Jebali Publishes Work on Trait Drift in Microalgae
Ahlem Jebali, a postdoctoral research scientist at the New Mexico Consortium, along with Alina Corcoran, a scientist at the New Mexico Consortium, recently have published their work, Trait drift in microalgae and applications for strain improvement, in Biotechnology Advances. This review focuses on trait drift in microalgae with a lens towards production systems.
Due to ongoing human population growth, environmental problems and increasing scarcity of natural resources, it is crucial to use sustainable methods to produce goods and services. There is increasing evidence that microalgae-based technologies can be produced sustainably and are a promising candidate towards many commercial technologies and products. Some examples include bioremediation, bioproducts such as biofuel, fertilizer, food, livestock feed, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
Compared to other biomanufacturing platform technologies, industrial production of microalgal biomass still needs more research and development in order to compete. The authors of this article point out that bench-scale research on microalgae often fails to translate well to large-scale systems. This is most likely due to trait drift and evolution of the algae over time. What does this mean? Trait drift is the change of the original phenotype observed through mechanisms (mainly through plasticity and evolution) that can be reversible or become fixed in a population.
This means that over time, the traits you want or do not want in your algae may change in response to unique drivers in the algae’s environment, such as cultivation regimes, weather, and pests. This makes the maintenance of desired traits a challenge.
This review looks at our current understanding of trait drift and evolution in microalgae. The authors describe in great detail the basics of phenotype plasticity and evolution, with a focus on how microalgae respond under various conditions.
This study also reviews techniques that take advantage of phenotypic plasticity and evolution for strain improvement in view of industrial commercial applications, highlighting associated advantages and shortcomings. To overcome unwanted trait drift and evolution in microalgae cultivation, they also suggest future research directions and recommendations
To read the entire article see: Ahlem Jebali, Monica R. Sanchez, Erik R. Hanschen, Shawn R. Starkenburg, Alina A. Corcoran. Trait drift in microalgae and applications for strain improvement. Biotechnology Advances. Volume 60, November 2022, 108034