In the context of human population increase, the development of microalgae culture offers lot of advantages. It does not compete with the use of agricultural land and presents high productivities (in mean, the biomass twice every day). Still, the exploitation of microalgae is very recent, just as their improvement programs.
For seven years, our laboratory has been working on the domain of microalgae improvement. Currently, the major problem for algae improvement programs is the cost and the limited capacity for phenotyping methods.
Molecular marker-assisted selection is the solution implemented in all improvement programs realized on agronomic species to solve the constraint of phenotyping. Currently, molecular approach is used to guide the improvement programs from all important agronomic organisms to feed people. However the marker-assisted selection requires the identification of molecular markers linked to a phenotypic variation. The best strategy currently established to identify molecular markers is genetic association. In this project, we propose to develop the first genetic association approach in microalgae. This approach will allow to describe the genetic basis of complex traits in microalgae and provide the first molecular markers to future improvement programs.
In this project, genetic basis which plays a role in variation of lipid and pigment will be for the first time described for algae. A particular focus will be realized on antioxidant molecules such as omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoid which have an important role in human nutrition.
The DynAlgue project is the starting point for future marker-assisted selection in microalgae and that will reduce the gap with the other agronomic species.