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Marine algae seen as ideal biofuel source

April 3, 2012 at 6:49 PM   |   Comments

FAIRFAX, Va., April 3 (UPI) -- As part of a project to find the best algae species for producing biodiesel fuel, U.S. researchers say they've assembled the genome of a marine algae species.

While various sources have been considered for alternative, renewable fuel sources to prevent an energy crisis and reduce greenhouse gas production -- corn and soybeans for biodiesel, for example -- researchers say algae is a prime candidate for producing as much biofuel as possible in the smallest amount of space using the least amount of resources.

Algae can use various water sources ranging from wastewater to brackish water and can be grown in small, intensive plots on otherwise unusable land, scientists say.

With that in mind, researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have assembled the genome of Nannochloropis gaditana, a marine alga that may be capable of producing the yields necessary for a viable fuel source.

With fairly straightforward genetic modification, N. gaditana should be capable of producing biofuel on an industrial scale, Virginia Tech reported Tuesday.

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