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NFC: New Algae
Does any one else get a sense of dread when they read articles like this
or is it just me?
New Algae Grows in Darkness
WASHINGTON (AP) - Inserting a single new gene into
the DNA of a
type of algae allowed the microscopic plant to
thrive in darkness,
growing vigorously without the need for sunlight,
In a study appearing Friday in the journal Science,
Martek Biosciences Corp. (NasdaqNM:MATK - news) in
Md., and the Carnegie Institution of Washington
department of biology
in Palo Alto, Calif., report that a microalgae was
engineered to use
glucose as its primary energy source instead of
The algae, as do most plants, normally gets its
energy through a
photosynthesis process that requires sunlight.
Kirk E. Apt of Martek, a co-author of the study,
said that converting
the algae so that it thrived in darkness was
accomplished by splicing into
the plant a human gene that directs the movement in
a cell of glucose.
Apt said the engineered algae, called Phaeodactylum
tricornutum, was chosen for the experiment, but
that a commercial application of the gene
engineering will come in other types of algae.
Algae is used in foods, pigments, cosmetics and
animal feed. It is commonly grown in sunlit ponds
where it is difficult to control the quality and
purity of the harvested plants.
Apt said that by genetically weaning algae of its
need for sunlight, the plant could be grown in enclosed
vats where the results could be carefully