Unlike progresses made over centuries in agriculture, selection of original strains or populations with high potential for targeted applications remains a major challenge for the future of industrial farming, when considering microalgae. Techniques of variety selection, such as those developed for centuries in agriculture, are not directly applicable to microorganisms. However, processes exist that allow selection of a peculiar phenotype within a population. Combined with processes to increase inter-individual variability, these techniques offer an appealing alternative to GMOs in regard to criteria such as productivity, toxins tolerance, production of specific molecules, etc.

The methods developed in a previous project have shown the necessary adjustments to be extended to various microalgae and diazotrophic cyanobacteria, whose independence in regard to nitrate supply may prove to be an advantage in biotechnology. Staining of specific biological characteristics must be tested and requires better comprehension in order to exploit such potential. Similarly, the selection step requires technical choices and their fine control to obtain the expected selection. Concomitantly, a continuous approach of oriented selection will be set up. We propose a multifaceted strategy to support the production of autotrophic microalgae. It will focus on assembling the blocks that are necessary between mutation techniques, marking, selection, screening and isolation. The challenge is the production of alternative robust strains, aiming at quadrupling the potential of wild microalgae. This project will position us as a leader in the international competition for this cutting edge approach.

Factor 4 involves 3 public research teams for a total budget of € 5.6 million.

These researches funds ( 700 keuros) are suported by the National Research Agency (ANR), Bio-Materials and Energy Research Program.

The project is coordinated by Gaël Bougaran (Physiologie et Biotechnologie des Algues)

Start : mars 2012Duration : 36 month