September 2017 newsletter

The PHYCONET September 2017 newsletter is now available. If you would like to receive the next newsletter direct to your inbox, please join us by completing the short form on the Membership page.

HPLC training at RLC Lab

Six PHYCONET members recently attended a 2-day HPLC course, tailored to algae researchers, at RLC Lab in Loughborough. The course covered theory and application by analysing test mixes/algae extracts, investigating the effect of changing key parameters (organic solvent concentration, flow rate, temperature) to achieve efficient separation, calibration/quantification and sample preparation techniques including SPE (solid phase extraction). The focus of the course is on understanding compound structure and properties and how this information is used to guide method development.
We may fund this course again next year (possibly in March, April or May); however, a minimum of 6 people are required so if you are interested in attending this free course with accommodation and meals included, please email Janet Waterhouse (networkmanager@phyconet.org.uk). Students whose stipends contain funds for training activities are not eligible.

Outreach funding awarded for Algaerium Bioprinter and Algae Printing exhibition

Research Associate Marin Sawa from Imperial College London was invited to exhibit her “Algaerium Bioprinter and Algae Printing” work at the prestigious international STARTS Prize 2017 at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz earlier this month. The STARTS (Science, Technology and Arts) prize is awarded by the European Commission to projects at the cutting edge of Europe’s creative and cultural sectors. Her biodesign work is an aesthetic biotechnological installation, in which inkjet printing technology is used to seed algae on paper to grow and harness their air purification, health food, and bioelectricity applications in one compact creative system. The work is based on algae printing technology developed in collaboration with Professor Peter Nixon at Imperial College London. PHYCONET provided funds towards materials for the exhibit. The installation has been moved to the BOZAR Electronic Arts Festival in Brussels, and will be exhibited there until the end of September. Marin’s report on the exhibition can be found here.

Funding awarded to establish UK cyanobacteria research community

Following on from the PHYCONET Cyanobacterial Biotechnology conference, held in London in May, we are pleased to provide funding to Professor Anna Amtmann and Dr Mary Ann Madsen from the University of Glasgow to establish a cyanobacteria research community in the UK. The aims of this community are to foster exchanging of expertise and know-how, joining forces for grant proposals, providing skills training for PhD students and post-docs, and offering a reference point for industry. In order to achieve this, a comprehensive list of UK research groups working with cyanobacteria will be collated, along with their research interests, funding, industrial partners and collaborators. Information on available strains, molecular tools and protocols will also be collected. In addition, a “UK cyanobacteria” website for academic researchers and industry workers is to be developed. If you would like to receive notifications regarding this initiative, please contact Mary Ann directly by email (maryann.madsen@glasgow.ac.uk).

Algem training

The next Algenuity Algem training day will take place on 19 October at their Stewartby site. The cost is £300 but PHYCONET members receive a £50 discount. There will be another Algem training day on 18 January 2018, for which funding is available though our Training & Conference scheme. For details of the training day, please click here.

Outreach funding awarded for virtual reality educational tool

We are pleased to support an outreach project initiated by Alistair McCormick (University of Edinburgh) to develop an interactive educational tool that involves a virtual reality game in which users need to find a RuBisCO enzyme, pick it up and collect CO2 molecules, while avoiding O2 molecules. Users are given a VR headset and hand held controller and allowed to walk around immersed in a 3D environment (about 3 x 3 m2).  The program “shrinks” the user to the size of an atom and places them inside a chloroplast. The VR system can track their movement so they are able to actively walk around within the VR world space. The game was designed in collaboration with PhD student, Hamish Todd (from Andrew Goryachev’s lab), and Alistair’s lab trialled it at the Midlothian Science Festival in Edinburgh last year. In the longer term, the aims are to introduce the kit for use in schools, and to develop more biology educational games for the platform.

Training & Conference funding awarded

Congratulations to Olga Sayanova from Rothamsted Research, who has secured funding for PDRAs Alex Pudney, Richard Smith, Chiara Gandini and Krisztina Sarkozi to attend an Algenuity Algem photobioreactor training course in October.

August 2017 newsletter

The PHYCONET August 2017 newsletter is now available. If you would like to receive the next newsletter direct to your inbox, please join us by completing the short form on the Membership page.

New Zealand–UK algal biotechnology workshop

PHYCONET members recently attended a workshop on algal biotechnology at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson, New Zealand. This networking event, sponsored by BBSRC, The Cawthron Institute, CBMNet, PHYCONET, the Microbiology Society and the British High Commission, brought together algal researchers and industry representatives from New Zealand and the UK to discuss progress and opportunities in the exploitation of microalgae, particularly as feedstock for aquaculture and as sustainable sources of novel bio-products. The report from this workshop is available here.

Academic partner sought for assistance with “single step” extraction of intracellular compounds from microalgae

Biovorn Ltd, a UK company, has discovered a novel technology (BVX) which promises “single step” extraction of intracellular compounds from microalgae. Initial tests have demonstrated successful extraction of proteins, carotenoids and DNA from a range of algal strains: directly into aqueous or oil solutions. The biomass does not require pre-treatment or drying, so costs are significantly lower than existing technologies. The company is now seeking an academic partner to assist with further research into the potential efficacy of BVX. The work will involve working with a range of algal strains to test aqueous and oil based extractions of target compounds including proteins, lipids and carotenoids. Successful applicants will be able to demonstrate experience from similar projects. For details, contact Jerome Vaughan (email: jerome@biovorn.com; tel: 01594 862888).

Phyconet News

  • September 29, 2017

    The PHYCONET September 2017 newsletter is now available. If you would like to receive the next newsletter direct to your inbox, please join us by completing the short form on the Membership page.

  • Six PHYCONET members recently attended a 2-day HPLC course, tailored to algae researchers, at RLC Lab in Loughborough. The course covered theory and application by analysing test mixes/algae extracts, investigating the effect of changing key parameters (organic solvent concentration, flow

    Read more ›

  • Research Associate Marin Sawa from Imperial College London was invited to exhibit her “Algaerium Bioprinter and Algae Printing” work at the prestigious international STARTS Prize 2017 at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz earlier this month. The STARTS (Science, Technology and

    Read more ›