Prof. Yantao Li

The University of Maryland – The Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET)

Lab Website

May 9th, 2016 – Spring Seminar

Time and location: Noon at Public Policy 105

“Fit or Fat: Microalgal lipid biochemistry and biotechnology”

Host: Minjoung Kyoung


Lipids such as triacylglycerols (TAGs) are energy-rich reduced carbon reserves commonly found in algae, plants, fungi, and animals. Recently, growing demand for sustainable fuels has revived interest in exploring microalgae as a renewable feedstock for biofuel production. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying algal TAG biosynthesis and turnover are poorly understood. The lack of such knowledge has limited our ability to rationally manipulate algae for oil production. Our analyses of the enzymes that catalyze TAG biosynthesis reveals their distinct substrate specificities and functions in TAG biosynthesis in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, paving the way for engineering microalgae for production of biofuels and other high-value bioproducts. On the other hand, through analysis of the lipid turnover pathway in algae, we developed a lipase-based platform to enzymatically convert oil-rich algae biomass into biofuels, representing a less energy intensive and more environmentally benign strategy for biomass processing. Finally, we discussed the biotechnological implications of our recent work.

Related Articles:

Li, Yantao, et al. “Chlamydomonas starchless mutant defective in ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase hyper-accumulates triacylglycerol.” Metabolic engineering 12.4 (2010): 387-391.

Wang, Yao, et al. “Highly-efficient enzymatic conversion of crude algal oils into biodiesel.” Bioresource technology 172 (2014): 143-149.

Liu, Jin, et al. “Characterization of type 2 diacylglycerol acyltransferases in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii reveals their distinct substrate specificities and functions in triacylglycerol biosynthesis.” The Plant Journal (2016).