Title: Senior Research Scientist
Association/Company: New Mexico Consortium
Dr. Sayre completed his Ph. D. at the University of Iowa and did postdoctoral work at Harvard University. He was a professor of Biochemistry and Plant Biology at Ohio State University from 1986-2008. In 2008, Dr. Sayre joined the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center as the Director of the ERAC Institute for Renewable Fuels. At the Danforth Center he directed a US-DOE Energy Frontier Research Center focused on plant and algal lipid-based biofuels. Dr. Sayre joined Los Alamos National Laboratory 2011, where he directed multiple US-DOE algal biofuels research consortia. Dr. Sayre was also the co-founding editor of Algal Research. Dr. Sayre has received several honors including: Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University, Honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa, Fulbright Scholar at University Sao Paulo, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancemnt Sciences, and Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
Biomass: selection, modification and production of microalgaea
Optimizing biomass production from microalgae
Addressing the challenges of feeding a growing human population and mitigating atmospheric greenhouse gases will require substantial increases in biomass production and biological carbon capture. These challenges cannot be met by increasing arable lands used for agriculture since most arable land is already in agricultural production. Therefore, alternative biomass production systems and increased efficiencies in carbon fixation must be achieved.
Theoretically, the efficiency of energy conversion by photosynthesis can be as high as 11%. But in reality, the thermodynamic efficiency of photosynthesis is only 1-2%. Thus, there are substantial opportunities to increase photosynthetic efficiency. Our group has explored multiple strategies to improve biomass yields from algae including, 1) optimizing light energy conversion leading to increased CO2 fixation, 2) identifying master growth regulatory genes whose alterations in gene expression led to enhanced biomass yields, and 3) identification of algal strains that have elevated and sustainable biomass yields. Individually, each of these approaches has resulted in 2-3-fold increases in carbon fixation and biomass accumulation. Finally, we will propose an integrated model for the biological sequestration of carbon by algae to mitigate atmospheric carbon that has the potential to be scaled a commercially viable level.