How Do I Increase Bioreactor Efficiency?

This paper deals with cells as bioreactors. What exactly is a bioreactor? Industries produce chemicals to make everyday materials, from the polyester in the incredibly soft blanket I’m warming up with at the moment, to the bisphenol-A (BPA) used to harden and protect plastic surfaces. The current materials industry is based off of petrochemistry – we use synthetic chemistry methods to get these molecules from oil-based sources. This can be done in a tank, a chemical reactor. In a bioreactor, the tank is full of living culture, where microbes are performing the chemical reaction for us. The cells themselves can each be considered a bioreactors, and the tank itself is an industrial-sized one. Continue reading How Do I Increase Bioreactor Efficiency?

What Makes Algal Blooms Toxic?, Part 2

n this post we continue our overview of the paper Biosynthesis of neurotoxin. Last time we learned that Brunson et al. (2018) had guessed that a redox enzyme was needed as part of the pathway Pseudo-nitzschia uses to synthesize domoic acid (DA). They then studied the Pseudo-nitzschia’s transcriptome to answer the questions: Which genes are upregulated under low phosphate conditions? and Of those genes, which are upregulated still more under increased pCO2 conditions? Since those are the conditions previously observed to induce DA production, genes fitting both descriptions were highly suspect to be involved in DA biosynthesis. Continue reading What Makes Algal Blooms Toxic?, Part 2

What Makes Algal Blooms Toxic?

The algae in the ocean are a diverse bunch, one type of which is the silica-based diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia. Pseudo-nitzschia species are pennate eukaryotes: long, glass microscopic pens in waters along the California coast. When algae grow in large numbers, changing the color of the seawater, they are said to bloom. Pseudo-nitzschia blooms every year, and sometimes, when it does, it produces domoic acid. Continue reading What Makes Algal Blooms Toxic?