The Global View

Pondscum part 2: this time it’s hydrogen

algaeIn what has to be amongst the least scientific tests ever conducted Greenbang recently polled three of her friends to see if they too thought of X-men when the term genetic mutant was mentioned. The US TV series Heroes also made it on to the list of four answers, one of which came from a man with a genetics degree – his PhD supervisor must be so proud.

Thankfully, trash TV hasn’t turned everyone’s mind to mush and Greenbang has been reading a couple of papers from Professor Melis, a Berkley academic that mutates organisms to give fuel. Initially looking to see if algae were being mutated for higher biodiesel yields, another paper caught Greenbang’s eye.

According to the paper Prof. Melis is also looking to “minimize, or truncate, the chlorophyll antenna size in green algae to maximize photobiological solar conversion efficiency and H2 production,” – mutate algae to produce hydrogen at higher levels using only sunlight.

The work is still ongoing but is already five years ahead targets. Mutating a gene called TLA1 has already increased the organism, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to use solar energy five times more efficiently and Greenbang, for one, will be keeping an eye out for the work.