Ph.D. in Biology, University of Maryland,2002, Advisor: Margaret Palmer
M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, 1996, Advisor: Thomas Burton
B.S. in Biology, Arizona State University, 1993, Advisor: Jim Elser
change and dwindling fossil fuel reserves. To date, most research on algal biofuels has focused on identifying "super-species" - strains of algae that can be genetically modified and/or grown in environmental conditions that maximize production of neutral storage lipids (Triacylglycerols or TAG), which are the primary products used for biodiesel and jet fuel. But there is concern that single-species approaches to energy production could generate the same environmentally damaging practices and challenges for conservation as has production of food monocultures. What we need is to identify 'win-win' scenarios for biodiversity and biofuel production. One way to identify such scenarios is by identifying pathways by which nature has already selected, via evolution, for coexistence of species that have complementary genes that not only maximize diversity, but also biofuel.
The purpose of this proposal is to initiate a new collaboration in which we examine how evolution of genetic diversity, and the resulting coexistence of algal species in nature, leads to greater biofuel production. We plan to map lipid synthesis to the genetic correlates and metabolic pathways involved in biofuel production, and determine how gene expression is altered in multi-species communities.
Tilman, D. A. Wardle, A. P. Kinzig, G. C. Daily, M. Loreau, J. B. Grace, A. Larigauderie, D. Srivastava, and S. Naeem. 2012. Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature, 486:59-67.