Inducible Expression System
Solarvest (PEI) Inc. holds exclusive international patent rights to a controllable system for the production of value-added products from micro-algae.
The patent is described technically as an “inducible protein expression system” which uses “gene circuit technology” to control the expression of genes inside the micro-algae towards the production of different outputs. In general terms, the inducible system is a switch which when activated by the absence of oxygen will turn on the cellular machinery and will start producing a protein within the cell. Depending on which genes our technicians insert into the algae, we have the capacity to control what protein will be produced.
Two ways that we apply this system are in the production of high-value proteins, which are difficult to produce in typical protein producing organisms such as bacteria, and in the production of hydrogen gas for energy. In order to produce high-value proteins from algae, our technicians engineer the algae with the appropriate genes and then grow these new algae strains in large contained vessels. The algae are then triggered to produce the protein and the culture is harvested and the protein is extracted from the algae culture and purified. In order to produce hydrogen, the algae are engineered to produce a protein that controls a very ancient cellular mechanism, which allows the cells to recombine hydrogen atoms. These hydrogen atoms are produced by the cell from the splitting water molecules, into hydrogen gas. Since this process releases atoms which the cell would typically be used by the algae to create energy for itself, the process will only continue until the cell’s energy reserves are depleted, at which time the cell will revert to its typical mode of producing oxygen (the process of photosynthesis) until it is once again “switched” into hydrogen production mode. This process will continue as long as there are nutrients available to the cells.
Solarvest is also working on several other patent applications and patentable concepts, including additional submissions surrounding hydrogen and protein production platforms in algae; as well as, submission surrounding the chemical-free production of Omega-3 fatty acids from algae for the food and nutraceutical markets. The Omega-3 research is focused on developing natural methods of culturing algae to optimize Omega-3 production; hence, only natural strains of algae, along with chemical-free ingredients and processes are used, making this product GMO-free and organic-certifiable.