Transgenic Microalgae as Green Cell Factories
Microalgae have been largely cultured and commercialized as food and feed
additives, and their potential as source of high-added value compounds is well known.
But, in contrast to the large number of genetically modified bacteria, yeast and even
higher plants, only a few species of microalgae have been genetically transformed
with efficiency. Initial difficulties in the expression of foreign genes in microalgae
have been progressively overcome, and powerful molecular tools for their genetic
engineering are now on hand. A considerable collection of promoters and selectable
marker genes and an increasing number of genomic or cDNA sequences have become
available in recent years. More work is needed to transform new species of
microalgae, specially those that have commercial value, so that it would be possible
to increase the productivity of traditional compounds or synthesize novel ones. Silencing
transgenes remains as an important limitation for stable expression of foreign
genes. This problem is not unique to microalgae since it has also been observed
in plants, animals and fungi. A better understanding of the mechanisms that control
the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes is therefore needed.
In this book a group of outstanding researchers working on different areas of
microalgae biotechnology offer a global vision of the genetic manipulation of
microalgae and their applications.