Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Vanquishing Vampires

Genomic analysis of predatory bacteria stands to improve the future of biofuels.
January 1, 2020
Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus bacteria (yellow) attack Chlorella algae (green)

Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus bacteria (yellow) attack Chlorella algae (green), sucking out their insides until they are deflated, empty cells that are no longer useful for making biofuels.

We are developing a standardized way for algae farmers to test their ponds on a daily basis.

Pathogens are everywhere in the global ecosystem. Some infect animals, some infect plants, and others even infect microorganisms such as algae. For those seeking to grow algae in large outdoor ponds for biofuel production, understanding what pathogens have the potential to wipe out their crop is a big concern. Los Alamos scientists are studying the genomes of algae-targeting pathogens—including some vampire-like bacteria called Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus—to find ways to quickly detect these threats so they can be mitigated before it’s too late.

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