Algae are a valued group of organisms that once modified with the use of synthetic biology, can mediate the sustainable and cost-effective generation of bioproducts. Recent advances in DNA synthesis technology and genome editing are enabling the re-writing and re-coding of genomes, adding a new dimension to biological research. However, these technologies have not been implemented in algae.
Alexandra through her research at the Laboratory of Algal, Synthetic, and Systems Biology (LASSB) in NYU Abu Dhabi, is developing synthetic genomic technologies for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green algal model species, in order to generate strains with superior characteristics with respect to the green production of bio-based feedstock and stress tolerance. Her project aims to reverse engineer targeted chromosomes of C. reinhardtii and synthetically generate genetic material through de novo synthesis of the organism’s genome in whole or in part, introducing design features that can enhance the study and manipulation of the genome.