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Cellectis engineers a lipid-rich diatom, targeting biofuels production

France-based Cellectis, a specialist in genome engineering, reported that it successfully used engineered nucleases to reprogram diatoms with a view to producing biofuels. This development was revealed by Dr. Fayza Daboussi, the Cellectis Group’s VP of Synthetic Biology and Technology of Cellectis Group on 26 June at the “Molecular Life of Diatoms” meeting in Paris, France.

Cellectis has generated a lipid‑rich diatom; this work will lead to new opportunities in synthetic biology and especially biofuel production from photosynthesis and CO2, the company said.

Cellectis develops and produces engineered site-specific endonucleases such as meganucleases and TALEN which have recently emerged as a powerful approach in genome engineering. By targeting specific sequences within diatoms’ genome, these nucleases can be used to accurately insert, correct, or inactivate specific genes. This first step offers a new opportunity for synthetic biology in microorganisms previously inaccessible to rational genome engineering.


  • Marine Beurdeley, Fabian Bietz, Jin Li, Severine Thomas, Thomas Stoddard, Alexandre Juillerat, Feng Zhang, Daniel F. Voytas, Philippe Duchateau & George H. Silva (2013) Compact designer TALENs for efficient Genome engineering. Nature Communications 4, Article number: 1762doi: 10.1038/ncomms2782


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