Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2015

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



The worldwide increasing energy demand and the carbon dioxide emission caused by fossil fuels utilization drive the search for more environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources. Biofuel is a potential source of sustainable energy that could contribute to future energy demand. Microalgae have various possible advantages for biofuel production over crops. Large-scale cultivation of microalgae does not compete for land, and theoretically microalgae may produce 10 to 100 fold more biodiesel per acre. The capacity has not been proved by industrial production, as there are still technical barriers. Today, researchers are devoted to improving their photosynthetic efficiency, boosting the growth rate, increasing the lipid contents and finally enhancing the lipid productivity. However, it remains a key challenge to select a proper microalgal strain for biodiesel production. This thesis compares 35 microalgal strains from 6 taxa by their culture media, growth rate, biomass productivity, lipid productivity and lipid profiles. Among all evaluation standards, lipid productivity and lipid profiles are the most critical for strain selection, as they represent the quantity and quality of biodiesel that a strain is capable to produce. Other strategies to further reduce the cost of biofuel production from microalgae, such as random mutagenesis and gene manipulation of strains are also discussed. As a conclusion, Scenedesmus obliquus and Nannochloropsis gaditana are the most promising strains for biofuel production. Symbiodinium is the most prevalent genus of endosymbiotic dinoflagellates. Their photosynthetic products are exchanged with the host for carbon dioxide and other inorganic molecules. Peridinin–chlorophyll a–proteins (PCPs) are one of the most significant lightharvesting complexes in Symbiodinium. PCP’s bound carotenoid peridinin outnumbers chlorophyll a, which makes it unique among all antenna proteins. Our group has reported the gene sequence and general properties of PCP, such as the stoichiometry of pigments and its functional oligometric state. To further explore the energy transfer between pigments within the complex, we overexpressed PCP from Symbiodinium in E. coli. Western blots were used to confirm the existence of PCP in the cytosol of E. coli.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Robert Blankenship

Committee Members

Gary Patti, Timothy Wencewicz


Permanent URL:

Available for download on Thursday, August 15, 2115