Desert Crust to Biofuels: Molecular Biology Tools

The small green alga Chlorella ohadii was recently discovered in a biological sand crust in the Negev Desert in Israel. C. ohadii shows remarkable resistance to high light and photoinhibition; CO2-dependent O2 evolution is not affected even when the cells are exposed to light of almost twice the intensity of full sunlight. It also exhibits extraordinary growth rates, with doubling times that can be shorter than two hours!

To probe the fascinating biology of this alga, especially with respect to photosynthetic phenomena and growth, we are developing a number of molecular biology tools. Our current work focuses on genetic modifications that include random insertions, homologous recombination, and CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing.