A team of leading international scientists has developed a method for growing algae – used to produce biofuels and food – in extreme Middle Eastern climates.

The synthetic biologists from NYU Abu Dhabi, worked with researchers from the UAE University, to pioneer a technique which allows rapid algal growth in previously prohibitive weather conditions. By genetically engineering diatoms, and developing an approach referred to as Intracellular Spectral Recompositioning of light (ISR), a common algae can more effectively absorb light for photosynthesis, and flourish in conditions that were previously prohibitive. This could pave the way for a buoyant bio-economy in the region.

“With this technology, algae can be grown in photo-bioreactors at a higher density and a faster pace, reducing cost and speeding up production,” explained Weiqi Fu, PhD, a Research Scientist at NYU Abu Dhabi and the lead researcher ofthe study.