Sayre Research Team

Dr. Sayre's research group is internationally known for improving algae as a feedstock for biofuels. His algae implant biology program includes using algae to control mosquito populations that carry malaria and for vaccine delivery in agricultural applications.  The group works with a variety plants investigating characteristics of various biofuels feedstocks and improving plant nutritional content and productivity. 

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The Grand Challenge in Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds the Bio Cassava Plus program. The NMC’s role in this program includes; increasing bio-available levels of iron in roots, reducing cyanogen toxicity, increasing root protein content, reducing root post-harvest physiological deterioration, and developing root-specific promoters for transgene expression in cassava. Other NMC research programs in cassava look at starch metabolism and biofuel production from cassava.


Microalgal Biotechnology

This program develops the components of a commercially viable biofuel production systems. The team develops transgenic microalgae with increased photosynthetic efficiency and enhanced oil production. They explore novel oil extraction technologies that reduce biofuel production costs.
Microalgal biotechnology research at the NMC includes:
  • Development of photosynthetic carbon reduction pathways in green algae and plants.
  • Research on synthetic carbon fixation pathways to meet domestic energy demands and sustainable production.
  • Improving photosynthetic efficiency and carbon concentrating efficiency in biofuel feedstocks. See this News Highlight!
  • Investigating strategies for containment of organisms that affect the health/yield of the algae essential for biofuel production.

Algal Health for Biofuels

In order to ensure the health of the algae essential for biofuel production, Dr. Sathish Rajamani of the Sayre team investigates strategies for containment of organisms such as rotifers that can cause infestations and wipe out the algae population. Below is a video of a Brachionus rotifer feeding on Platymonas (unicellular algae):
Video courtesy of Dr. Sathish Rajamani

Sayre Team Active Research Programs

The following research projects are active research projects with Dr. Richard Sayre. These may be Los Alamos National Laboratory projects or industry projects with a private company that take place within the NMC Biological Laboratory and Greenhouse. 

Breeding Algae for Enhanced Productivity 

DOE, AOP-LANL (2016-present)  

Development of pH-responsive Protein Switches to Regulate Energy Capture and Conversion Processes in Photosynthesis 

DOE, ER, (2015-2018)

PACE, Producing Algae for Energy and Co-products 

DOEE-BETO TABB Program (2017-19)

Improved Photosynthetic Efficiency in C3 Plants

BASF Agricultural Solutions Seed US LLC (2016-2018) 
Pebble Labs

Dr. Richard Sayre is also the Chief Scientific Officer of Pebble Labs, a biotechnology conglomerate located in Los Alamos, NN. Pebble Labs currently has a portfolio of three companies which conduct their work at the NMC Biological Laboratory and Greenhouse: 

  • Little Fly Labs which works on a patent-pending mosquito treatment to block diseases such as Zika, Dengue, Yellow Fever and West Nile Virus.
  • Iron Leaf Biosciences which focuses on plant protection by using bacteria to silence fungal and viral pathogens.
  • Imugenics which provides solutions to the animal health industry.

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