New opportunities for green biotechnology

Professor Anna Amtmann will be co-director of Algae UK, one of six Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) funded by a joint £11 million BBSRC-EPSRC investment with the aim to move the UK to low carbon economy.

The new NIBBs were announced in the BBSRC News on 8th Nov 2018:

From seaweed to metals, these multidisciplinary networks will drive new ideas to harness the potential of biological resources for producing and processing materials, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy. The NIBBs will run for five years (2019-2024) and fund networking events, proof-of-concept grants and training.

Algae UK will continue and expand activities of the very successful PHYCONET, which has built an enthusiastic community of academics, industry and other stakeholders and helped catalyse significant R&D and engagement in the area of high value products from microalgae. The new network, Algae-UK, will build on this momentum by broadening the remit of the network to encompass macro-algae (seaweed), and to give more focus to the emerging area of cyanobacterial synthetic biology. Anna will be responsible for the latter activities joining the board of directors including Saul Purton (UCL, director), Pat Harvey (University of Greenwich, co-director microalgae) and Michele Stanley (SAMS, co-director macro-algae).

Cyanobacteria have successfully occupied almost every niche of our planet including arctic ice, deserts and toxic sites. To survive in these extreme environments they have evolved a palette of highly diverse and complex polymers and pigments that have applications in many industries due to immune-modulating, antioxidant, spectral and rheological properties. Some natural products form cyanobacteria (e.g. Spirulina) are already on the market but there is P

Prof Amtmann said "Being actively involved in establishing and promoting Industrial Biotechnology through this NIBB is excellent news for UofG, CMVLS and IMCSB. Glasgow already has a long-standing reputation in photobiology research. Over the last year we have taken an active role in bringing together UK academics working on cyanobacteria and linking with industry. For example, this September we organised and hosted the first ‘UK Cyanonet’ meeting here in Glasgow, and the highly interactive event has already generated new collaborations and grant applications. I am really pleased that Algae UK will give us an opportunity to promote and develop the potential of photosynthetic bacteria as ‘green E. coli’ of future low-carbon biotechnology.”

First published: 13 December 2018

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