Starch breakthrough could set the stage for algae products boom


In Japan, researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tohoku University say they have discovered a way to increase starch output in algae.

The research could make algae-based starch for biofuels and renewable materials more economically feasible.

The team, led by Sousuke Imamura at the Laboratory for Chemistry and Life Science, Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology, discovered a “switch” that controls algae’s starch content. The study dramatically increased starch production by de-activating TOR, a protein kinase, in unicellular red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae. After 48 hours, starch production increased ten-fold.

The findings were published in a recent issue of The Plant Journal.