Recent Developments on Genetic Engineering of Microalgae for Biofuels and Bio-Based Chemicals

I. Son Ng, Shih I. Tan, Pei Hsun Kao, Yu Kaung Chang, Jo Shu Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Microalgae serve as a promising source for the production of biofuels and bio-based chemicals. They are superior to terrestrial plants as feedstock in many aspects and their biomass is naturally rich in lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, pigments, and other valuable compounds. Due to the relatively slow growth rate and high cultivation cost of microalgae, to screen efficient and robust microalgal strains as well as genetic modifications of the available strains for further improvement are of urgent demand in the development of microalgae-based biorefinery. In genetic engineering of microalgae, transformation and selection methods are the key steps to accomplish the target gene modification. However, determination of the preferable type and dosage of antibiotics used for transformant selection is usually time-consuming and microalgal-strain-dependent. Therefore, more powerful and efficient techniques should be developed to meet this need. In this review, the conventional and emerging genome-editing tools (e.g., CRISPR-Cas9, TALEN, and ZFN) used in editing the genomes of nuclear, mitochondria, and chloroplast of microalgae are thoroughly surveyed. Although all the techniques mentioned above demonstrate their abilities to perform gene editing and desired phenotype screening, there still need to overcome higher production cost and lower biomass productivity, to achieve efficient production of the desired products in microalgal biorefineries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1600644
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine


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