Algal Biotechnology

The innovations in Molecular Biology that triggered the revolution in modern biology and enabled the establishment of the field of Biotechnology will critically determine everyday life in the 21st century. For the positive use of these technologies at the MCI research focus algal biotechnology we apply the range of biotechnological methods to identify as yet unknown substances from this often poorly known group of photosynthetic organisms for applications in medicine, chemistry or food technology. Microalgae have also the potential to serve as ideal organisms for the transgenic production of complex molecules. The required research for this application is another focus of the MCI biotechnology cluster.

Alexander Trockenbacher
Dr. Alexander Trockenbacher Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3838

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Molecular Biotechnology of Microalgae

Biotechnology with transgenic micro-algae: For years, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has served as a model organism for basic research. Given the alga’s classification as a safe organism (GRAS = generally regarded as safe), it could be used in the future to produce bioengineering products such as vaccines. The MCI is working to optimize methods for improving reproducibility and yield through transgenic expression. As a model application, development is taking place on the expression of allergens in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii for specific immunotherapy.


Cultivation and Processing of Microalgae

In order to establish the use of microalgae for biotechnological purposes, the complete process chain, from cultivation to isolation and analysis is taken into account. The most promising Micro-algae strains identified by bioactivity screenings of biobanks are analyzed for identification of optimized growth parameters.

These efforts lead to the development of economic photobioreactors with optimized light and nutrient input and flexible regulation for induction of biomass and/or induction of active agent production. For the optimization of Downstream-Processing new methods for microalgae cell disruption and extraction of active agents are developed at the MCI.


Screening for Novel Compounds

Biobank screening for active agents: Micro-algae constitute a diverse group of photosynthetic organisms, which have become a focus of biotechnological research in view of the valuable substances to be found in them and the low cost of growth in the presence of light. At MCI, yet unresearched biobanks, e.g. a collection of terrestrial algae, are undergoing screening in search of innovative active agents and products for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industries.


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Research Areas at a glance

  • Griesbeck, C. & Trockenbacher A. (2015). Kompetenzaufbau hochwertige Produkte aus Algen. Biobased Future 4, 21.
  • Griesbeck C. et al. (2006) Chlamydomonas reinhardtii – a protein expression system for pharmaceutical and biotechnological proteins, Molecular Biotechnology 34, 213-224
  • Trockenbacher, A., & Griesbeck, C. (2015). Novel Products from Microalgae. Going Public Special Biotechnologie 2015, 107-108.

  • Griesbeck C. et al. (2006) Chlamydomonas reinhardtii - a protein expression system for biotechnological and pharmaceutical proteins. Life Science Circle, Wien, 2006
  • Griesbeck, C. (2014). Genetisch veränderte Algen als Produktionsorganismen. 7. Bundesalgenstammtisch der DECHEMA, Köthen
  • Griesbeck C., Kirchmayr A., Sizova I. und Hegemann P. (2011) Transgene Expression and Gene Targeting in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Congress Proceedings of BIT´s 1st Annual World Congress of Marine Biotechnology
  • Lackner C. und Griesbeck C. (2009) Virale Promotoren zur verbesserten Transgenexpression in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. In: Baumgartner E. (Herausgeber): 3. Forschungsforum der österreichischen Fachhochschulen, pp 458-459. Kärntner Druck- und Verlagsges.m.b.H., Klagenfurt. ISBN 978-3-853912850
  • Griesbeck C. und Rücker O. (2008) Silencing-defiziente Stämme von Chlamydomonas reinhardtii zur verbesserten Transgenexpression. In: Kastner J. (Herausgeber): 2. Forschungsforum der österreichischen Fachhochschulen, pp 395-399. Shaker Verlag, Aachen. ISBN 978-3-8322-7023-0

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