Algal Oils to ’Drop-in’ Replacements for Petroleum-derived Transportation Fuels

NSF-Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (2009)Algae

In this synergistic approach  employing
both engineering and biology faculty,
the team is:
a) using a synthetic biology approach
to genetically alter  the marine
microalgae Dunaliella to produce the
most desirable feed stocks and
optimize the production for
conversion to transportation fuels,
b) developing innovative and transformative approaches to 
extracting these lipids and fatty acids from the algae,
c) optimizing the decarboxylation catalyst, and
d) optimizing the entire biorefinery process including maximizing thermal efficiency.
In collaboration with Dr. Amy Grunden we are developing novel co-products to make algae biofuels economically viable.

NCSU Faculty
William Roberts (PI) Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Heike Sederoff, Plant Biology
JoAnn Burkholder, Plant Biology
Henry Lamb, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Larry Stikeleather, Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Amy Grunden, Microbiology
Wendy Boss, Plant Biology

Industry Partners
Permafuels, T. Turner (Owner
Diversified Energy (Jeff Hassannia, VP)
InnovaTech, (Steve Wright, VP)


gravitational and Space Biology

Sensing and signal transduction of abiotic stress in roots

Plants sense their physical, chemical, and biological environment and respond by adjusting their growth and development. Light, temperature, gravity, mechanical impedance, or osmotic pressure are perceived by one or more specific sensors. The sensor converts the physical change into a chemical signal that is amplified by a signal transduction pathway to modulate changes in gene expression that result in a physiological response.

We are focusing on the regulation of gene expression by signal transduction components that mediate the responses to gravity, light, and mechanical stress and their role in other abiotic stress responses in roots.

This work is a Red Cellcollaboration with Drs. Chris Brown,
Terri Lomax, and
Imara Perera at NCSU, funded by NASA and USDA.

Our favorite “off-campus” lab is the ISS where we have carried out experiments with tomatoes in 2007 and 2008 and will again use this microgravity lab for research in 2011.







Dr. Heike Sederoff

Heike Sederoff
Assistant Professor

4213 Gardner Hall
Department of Plant Biology
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7612
(919) 513-0076

Labs: (919) 515-2225
(919) 513-7784

Plant Sensory Lab Collegues

US Space Station