Project title: Algal Bioproducts – Investigating the Effect of Light Quality on Metabolite Production by Photosynthetic Diatoms
In recent years, algal culturing under stringently controlled environmental conditions has become highly prioritised in basic and applied research. Photobioreactor systems allow us to control and constantly monitor temperature, pH, light intensity and light quality (spectral composition of light). A hypothesis was proposed to grow photosynthetic diatoms under varying light quality to investigate the biochemical responses that could inform industry.
Diatoms have become a potential source for commercially valuable chemicals used in cosmetic, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products, as well as being an established feed in aquaculture, particularly for bivalve, mollusc and shrimp larvae in Australia and a potential candidate for biofuel production. Hence being able to control the bioproduction of desired chemicals from diatoms will potentially have a significant influence on multiple industries.
Aims of the PhD Project
The project will investigate the effects of light quality on biomass production of primary and secondary metabolite biosynthesis in diatoms that are relevant for industrial applications. Using novel photobioreactors, the light quality will be modulated to analyse the biochemical response of the diatom species Chaetoceros muelleri. The biochemical response of diatoms to light quality changes is largely enigmatic; the project that will explore the potential of light quality changes to produce high value products. The aim of the project is to provide information to industries such as aquaculture, cosmetics, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals of the potential up-regulation and differential regulation of desired primary and secondary metabolite bioproducts as a result of varying light quality during growth.