Our proprietary Precision Photosynthesis ™ technology is central to our biomanufacturing platform. To capitalize on microalgae’s unique benefits as cellular chassis, we use photosynthetic bioprocesses to turn CO2 into high-value bioproducts. However, the impressive diversity of microalgae species means that the light conditions required to maximize bioproduction are not one-size-fits-all. So, to bring more microalgae species online as biomanufacturing chassis and mine the many valuable biochemicals they make, we need to understand and precisely control light conditions to tune them for specific species and bioproducts.
Precision Photosynthesis allows us to implement highly regimented light recipes within our biomanufacturing platform and photosynthetic bioprocesses to regulate gene expression for optimal algal growth and productivity. In effect, this means we can use light to control microalgae biology and optimize the production of high-value molecules from any species.
Below, read about microalgae’s special relationship with light and how we harness it for industrial photosynthesis in our sustainable biomanufacturing platform.
With hundreds of millions of years at their disposal, photosynthetic microalgae species successfully adapted to populate almost every ecosystem on the planet, including some of the most unique and extreme environments.
To accomplish such an impressive feat, individual microalgae species evolved unique genetic and biochemical characteristics to collect energy from the available light in their environment and use it to create the specific molecules needed for survival. Thus, each microalgae species became specifically adapted to the light conditions and resources of their ecosystem, developing complementary natural product profiles and metabolic characteristics.
Recent algal research has only further illuminated microalgae’s profound and finely-tuned relationship with light. Light is the primary stimulus through which microalgae comprehend and survive their environment. As a result, their biological processes revolve around light. In turn, light conditions strongly affect growth, phenotypes, gene expression, and biomolecular production on a species-specific basis.
Photosynthetic microalgae use sophisticated light-sensing systems comprised of photoreceptors and accompanying signalling pathways. Each photoreceptor controls different cellular functions through the regulation of specific genes. Together, these light-sensing systems help microalgae react to changes in their environment and allow them better thrive in it. Since these light-sensing capabilities evolved in diverse ecosystems, microalgae photosystems vary significantly across species, as do photoreceptors and the cellular functions they regulate.
To fully harness microalgae species as biomanufacturing chassis, we must speak the language of light fluently. This is where Precision Photosynthesis ™ sets our biomanufacturing platform and industrial photosynthesis process apart.
Our proprietary Precision Photosynthesis technology allows us to more fully decipher the unique light recipes required by individual microalgae species to enable their cultivation and use as biomanufacturing chassis. This allows us to capitalize on microalgae’s special relationship with light and fabricate photobioreactors capable of growing microalgae in highly controlled environments at commercial scales. Previously, this was virtually impossible.
Undoubtedly, recent advancements in LED technology played a critical role in the development of Precision Photosynthesis as an economically viable solution to microalgae’s historic scale-up challenges. For decades, LEDs could only supply specific wavelengths of light, which presented a massive limitation for microalgae biotechnology; Now, LEDs can provide a complete spectrum. LEDs are also much smaller, cheaper, and more energy efficient. Collectively, these advancements have vastly improved their viability in photosynthetic bioprocesses and biotechnologies.
Though improved LED technology made high-intensity artificial light viable across many different wavelengths, reliably delivering that light in microalgae cultivation conditions still remained largely out of reach. Fluid dynamics, gas injections, and algae cells each impact how the light behaves in photobioreactors. This necessitates an intelligent biomanufacturing system able to provide real-time feedback on the interplay of light recipes and cultivation conditions, and how they ultimately affect microalgae photosynthesis, growth, and bioproduction.
Precision Photosynthesis merges advancements in artificial lighting and precise control mechanisms with sophisticated sensors that measure critical microalgae bioprocess parameters such as dissolved gases, cell density, temperature, pH, salinity, nitrate concentration, and other cell health-associated variables. The system collects data and sends it to our cloud architecture, where it can be remotely monitored and analyzed using artificial intelligence for real-time bioprocess feedback. From there, biomanufacturers can make rapid, informed decisions regarding optimal light conditions for their target species and product.
Importantly, we explicitly designed Precision Photosynthesis to easily scale up and scale out, making transitions between product stages and photobioreactor sizes more seamless. Through careful engineering, the core technology remains consistent across bioprocess scales. This helps us better predict light behavior across bioreactor volumes and reduce hiccups associated with changes in light accessibility and distribution due to increased volumes. For smaller-scale cultivation, we can also use Precision Photosynthesis in massively parallel workflows that allow us to cultivate many microalgae species and/or trial many light recipes simultaneously.
This technology increases photosynthetic efficiency and transforms microalgae photosynthesis into a biomanufacturing engine.
With Precision Photosynthesis, we can tightly control light condition variables and quickly optimize them for specific applications using built-in feedback systems. In effect, this allows us to artificially recreate the light conditions found in the algae’s native environments and identify conditions that lead to advantageous bioproduction of target molecules.
Through careful light manipulation, we can improve microalgae growth and target material production to suit the needs of our partners. Done effectively, we can capitalize on photosynthetic microalgae’s diverse biochemistry, novel metabolites, and photosynthetic capabilities to turn light and CO2 into the high-value chemicals, ingredients, and biologics needed across industries.
Though optimizing microalgae photosynthesis for natural products is a core application, we also combine Precision Photosynthesis with synthetic biology approaches to better control the expression of recombinant gene products and improve yields. Recombinant gene expression in photosynthetic organisms has also faced challenges historically. But, Precision Photosynthesis also provides a new mechanism to enhance biomanufacturing productivity, particularly if promotor systems tie into photoreceptor-based transcription factors.
We can apply Precision Photosynthesis to…