Biological Studies

Biological Studies

By applying techniques developed in the terrestrial agriculture space, our macroalgae research team is pursuing a path towards optimizing growth in offshore conditions.

This involves an interplay between genetics, physiology, and developmental biology — all supporting a traditional breeding program that is grounded in the quantification of growth and carbon removal, and utilizes image-based phenotyping. As part of our mission to remove a megaton — and eventually gigaton — of carbon, we are committed to scaling our processes safely, sustainably, and systematically. 

Macroalgae research has four major pillars: foundational biology (exploring questions such as: what are their underlying genomes and genomic structures, how do they sporulate, etc.); understanding offshore growth and phenotyping (measuring growth and key phenotypic characteristics in response to various independent and combinatorial abiotic conditions for instance low nutrients and high wave energy, and developing model approaches to better predict growth response); macroalgae quantification and image-analysis (using high-throughput image-analysis techniques developed in terrestrial agriculture and applying them to the aquaculture space to guide how we measure and quantify growth in terms of carbon sequestration); and understanding natural genetic and phenotypic variation in macroalgae to develop a traditional breeding program.

Our research team also asks basic biological questions to increase our internal knowledge baselines, as well as disseminate information to the public and broader scientific community. Among the research questions we are actively exploring include: 

  • How do macroalgae species respond to individual and combinatorial abiotic pressures? What is the variation of these interactions at the genotype level? 
  • How can we best generate genomes, expression profiles, and other genetic tools to better characterize our macroalgae species of interest? 
  • What are the morphological and physiological differences across life stages in various Ulva species?
  • How can our models better predict macroalgal growth in various laboratory and oceanic conditions?
  • How can we apply high-throughput phenotyping using computer vision techniques first demonstrated in terrestrial agriculture?
  • Can we elucidate the physiological mechanisms of carbon uptake and utility across our different species of interest?
  • Can we develop a traditional breeding program to optimize macroalgal growth in our conditions of interest?
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