A novel gene delivery platform for single cell organisms
Microalgae are single-celled organisms that have great potential in producing biofuels from sunlight and carbon dioxide. In order to create an algal biofuel industrial process that is economically viable, the organisms must be genetically engineered so that they grow faster, consume fewer nutrients or require less light. A critical step in genetic engineering is delivering target DNA into the cell interior, but algae have a rigid cell wall that impedes this delivery. Current methods of genetic transformation are time-consuming and inefficient. To solve this problem, I am developing a promising new technology that increases the efficiency and the throughput of each transformation experiment. Briefly, this entails the application of hollow microneedle arrays that are loaded with DNA. The algae are pierced by these needles and the materials are injected into their cytoplasm for subsequent expression of target proteins or other molecules. In this presentation, I will highlight some recent progress of this project, which includes the preparation of the microneedle array platform and some preliminary results on algae piercing.