Project Title: Potential of sterol metabolism of marine diatoms for production of valuable compounds
Supervisor: Professor Peter Ralph Co-supervisor: Dr. Justin Ashworth
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in diatom research for the production of sustainable products such as fine chemicals; plastics; biofuels; and biologically active compounds with pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industrial applications. Diatoms are photosynthetic systems with many advantages for use as a platform for eukaryotic compounds production, they are easy to grow, have efficient growth rates, and do not need extra organic carbon sources for cultivation.
Sterols, essential components of all eukaryotic organisms, have several therapeutic applications and are usually commercialised as nutraceuticals or pharmaceuticals. The global sterols demand is increasing, due to sterols biological activity, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant and anti-osteoporotic activities. The aim of my project is to develop an efficient diatom platform for the production of sterol compounds using a system biology approach.
- Metabolic profiling of diatom products in response to changing conditions using mass spectrometry.
- Profile sterols production in different diatoms strains.
- Identify enzymes and genes putatively involved in sterol biosynthesis pathway.
- Genetically engineer a diatom strain to develop a sterol-overproducing strain.