Aurora Algae Develops New Techniques for Genetic Optimization of Algae

December 07, 2011

Enabling Rapid Development of Optimized Strains While Retaining Natural Genetic Purity


genetic optimization to create advanced-trait algae strains for product development in the pharmaceutical, nutrition, renewable energy and animal feed markets. This technology enables genetic optimization without introducing foreign genes, thereby preserving the organism's natural genetic background.

Aurora Algae's laboratories have implemented homologous recombination, a powerful strain development tool, for optimization of their industrial algal crops. This technology is a game changer for the company, as it vastly expedites research cycles, reducing the time and costs associated with studying biosynthetic pathways and subsequently manipulating those pathways. The proprietary process for the application of this technique is the subject of a peer-reviewed article in the upcoming issue of the highly-respected scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)*.

The potential for algae to provide next generation products to the biofuel and pharmaceutical industries is widely recognized by scientific and investment communities alike; but until now, algal research has been limited to existing strains of eukaryotic microalgae, due to a lack of applicable technology for manipulation of the genome in a targeted manner. Aurora's new technique for applying homologous recombination to Nannochloropsis, a fast-growing, unicellular alga capable of accumulating large amounts of oil, has the potential to rapidly advance algal functional genomics and biotechnology in a commercially relevant group of organisms.

"We have made rapid progress in developing molecular tools for the optimization of Nannochloropsis," said Dr. Bertrand Vick, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Aurora Algae, and one of the senior authors of the article. "We have had the full genome and transcriptome sequences for several years now, as well as high-efficiency transformation and homologous recombination technology. Using our suite of molecular tools, we now have the ability to tailor algae strains to meet the specific needs of customers, all in a completely natural, non-transgenic manner."

"For example," continued Vick, "One recent success was the development of a non-transgenic strain of algae with an altered lipid profile having a higher proportion of EPA, the valuable omega-3 essential fatty acid. This new strain will be extremely valuable in expanding the supply of omega-3s for the global pharmaceutical, food and dietary supplement industries, without reliance on limited fish stocks or expensive fermentation systems. Our ability to produce omega-3s in open pond systems will completely disrupt the industry."

* The full article, "High-efficiency homologous recombination in the oil-producing alga Nannochloropsis sp," is currently available for download at

About Aurora Algae

Aurora Algae is a producer of high-performance, premium algae-based products for the pharmaceutical, nutrition, aquaculture and fuels markets. The Company has developed the industry's first commercial-scale photosynthetic platform for sustainable, algae-based product development. Aurora Algae's proprietary algae strains and production process uses arid land, seawater and captured carbon pollution from industrial emitters, resulting in more capitally efficient and more environmentally sustainable algae farming. Aurora Algae enables its customers and partners to improve the diversity and sustainability of their product portfolios, while addressing consumer demand for natural products. For more information, please visit


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