Thesis title: The green horizon for biotech: a genome editing approach
Email contact: Jestin.George@student.uts.edu.au
Cells can be programmed to produce any protein of interest by supplying them with the gene encoding that protein. In this way, scientists have converted humble cells into bio-factories able to produce proteins, such as insulin for diabetes or antibodies for research and cancer vaccines. Naturally, this technology has become commercialised in order to meet the growing demand for recombinant proteins worldwide.
There are, however, problems with recombinant protein technology: there is no single cell perfect for commercial recombinant protein production. As such, the untapped potential of microalgae as cell factories is something we are excited about. This unicellular, eukaryotic organism offers a potentially safer, cheaper, and more sustainable alternative to more commonly used cells, such as mammalian and bacterial cells. In the C3 Algal Biofactory Research Program we are interested in developing one such microalgal species, Chlamydomonas reinhardii, as a cell bio-factory.
My project aims to tackle that task at the genome level, where there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding transgene integration and regulation in C. reinhardtii. I aim to achieve this using CRISPR /Cas9 genome editing technology. We hope that using genome engineering to uncover some of the complexities of protein production in this microalga could improve the currently low protein yields in order to develop a more robust microalgal bio-factory.