The development of “Euglena that cannot swim” is expected to reduce production costs. RIKEN, Euglena realized by genome editing | Business Insider Japan


Normal euglena and flagellaless euglena created by genome editing.

Image: RIKEN

Euglena is a microalgae that is a single-celled organism.

Because they contain many nutrients, they are being applied to health foods, and are also being used as raw materials for biofuels.

One of its characteristics is a single thread called “flagella” that extends smoothly from the end of Euglena’s body. Euglena moves in water by swinging the flagella from side to side.

On September 9, RIKEN and Euglena, a bio-venture company that manufactures health foods and biofuels using Euglena as raw materials, announced that Euglena, which has lost its flagella by genome editing technology,“Euglena that can’t swim”announced that it had developed

This result is expected to contribute to the improvement of Euglena production efficiency.

*Research results will be published in the online version of the scientific journal “Plant Biotechnology Journal”publishIt is

Why euglena, which cannot swim, reduces costs


An example of normal euglena (left) and flagellaless euglena created by genome editing (right two). ‘bbs7’ and ‘bbs8’ are flagella-related genes. By genome editing, the function of the gene with each name was lost.

Image: RIKEN

Many people may wonder, “Why would making euglena unable to swim would improve production efficiency?”

This has a lot to do with the process of culturing Euglena and using it industrially.

In order to make various products from euglena, it is necessary to cultivate a large amount of euglena, collect it, and extract the necessary substances. However, Euglena moves freely in the culture solution, so it takes time and effort to collect them all at once. In fact, it is currently being collected using a centrifuge.

In fact, the cost of this collection (cost of centrifugal equipment, electricity, etc.)It accounts for 20% to 30% of the total production cost, and the improvement of collection efficiency has become an issue for reducing production costs.

Euglena originally has the property of moving in the direction opposite to the direction of gravity (gravitotaxis). The research group explains that by removing flagella, “this (gravitaxis) disappears, making it easier to sink.”

By developing a non-swimming euglena, the euglena naturally sediments in the culture medium, and becomes a state similar to being separated by a centrifuge. By doing this, there is a possibility that 20 to 30% of the total production costs that have been incurred so far can be reduced.

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