Skip to main content
Creation of Basic Technology for Improved Bioenergy Production through Functional Analysi and Regulation og Algae and Other Aquatic Microorganisms
Creation of Basic Technology for Improved Bioenergy Production through Functional Analysi and Regulation og Algae and Other Aquatic Microorganisms
Japanese English

Research Area and Research Theme

Research Area

Research Area

Creation of Basic Technology for Improved Bioenergy Production through Functional Analysis and Regulation of Algae and Other Aquatic Microorganisms

Research Supervisor

Tadashi Matsunaga


Distinguished Professor, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
@Senior Researcher(Professor),Waseda Research Institute for Science and Engineering

Outline of Research Area

This research area aims to create new basic technologies for bioenergy production using algae and other aquatic microorganisms. Some algae and other aquatic microorganisms have high lipid or carbohydrate content, produce various hydrocarbons, and show high growth capability. These properties can be applied to innovative technologies for bioenergy production.

Specifically, research proposals should focus on improvements in the efficiency of energy production through the elucidation of the physiological functions and metabolic pathways of algae and other aquatic microorganisms, which are effective bioenergy producers, using advanced scientific technologies from the fields of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and cell analysis. Moreover, the results of proposed research may also benefit various other technologies related to the production of useful chemicals and water treatment using algae and other aquatic microorganisms.

Challenging research themes in broad areas including biology, chemistry, and engineering are welcome for the future realization of innovative technologies leading to bioenergy production.

Research Supervisor's Policy on Call for Application, Selection and Management of the Research Area

Biological energy production from solar energy has been a human dream for a long time. Ethanol produced from corn and sugar cane by yeast has already been commercialized as a biofuel. However, the use of these sources for bioethanol competes with food production. Therefore, the use of non-edible crop components and wood waste has become an important research target. Recently, biofuel production using algae and other aquatic microorganisms has attracted attention, because these organisms cannot only be used to produce ethanol but also to produce biodiesel fuel and other hydrocarbons. Use of the marine environment is an important advantage because the oceans cover 70% of the Earth.
This Research Area aims to create basic technologies for bioenergy production using marine and freshwater organisms and specifically focuses on the production of biofuels, including biodiesel fuel, light oil (alkane and alkene), ethanol, methane, hydrogen, etc., as well as lipids and sugars that can be converted to biofuels. Applications involving conversion of bioenergy to electric energy via a "biobattery" will also be considered. The byproducts of biofuel production are expected to be basic raw materials, such as silica, alginate, and bioactive compounds, such as astaxantin, -carotene, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), etc.
Although various research projects on bioenergy production by algae and other aquatic microorganisms have been underway for a long time now, this new Research Area aims to create innovative technologies for bioenergy production through the functional analysis of algae and other aquatic microorganisms based on recently developed "omics" technologies. For example, metabolic engineering based on proteome and metabolome analysis utilizing genomics, screening of unidentified useful genes based on metagenomic analysis, and functional alterations by genetic recombination are important strategies in this Research Area. A series of research directions from screening and cultivation of high biofuel producers to separation and extraction of biofuel are included. Furthermore, cost analysis, CO2 balance, LCA (life cycle assessment), and ecology of algae for ocean utilization should be considered for future commercialization of bioenergy production.
Collaboration among researchers from various fields, including marine biotechnology, phycology, microbiology, bioinformatics, marine biology, biochemistry, genetic engineering, plant physiology, chemistry, chemical engineering, and others, is necessary for research on bioenergy production by algae and other aquatic microorganisms. In addition to collaboration among many disciplines, challenging projects with creative ideas from new and active researchers are expected to produce good results. Therefore, this Research Area is supported by both CREST and PRESTO.
For CREST, fiscal year 2012 is the final year for accepting proposals. Among fields that create innovative basic technologies for producing bioenergies and diversified factors, basic technologies that use the growth control of algae and characteristics of metabolic pathways and that are needed for practical applications and fields for establishing basic technologies for effective uses of biological residues and by-products are also necessary. In addition, we take into account of team setup including private sectors for empirical projects in the future. Based on above aspects, we are expecting to receive proposals that realize innovative basic technologies through joint efforts of groups familiar with research methods in various fields. Given that research projects are progressing in other countries as well, we expect to receive proposals that set forth clear methods to produce more sophisticated outcomes.
For PRESTO, we are accepting a wide variety of proposals such as the ones for solving bottlenecks in the preliminary stages of studies using biological, chemical, or engineering approaches toward the realization of innovative technologies that lead us to create bioenergies in the future, or proposals, among aspects that are expected to bring great progress to this field in the future, which result in innovative bioreactors and their establishments such as effective use of lights, biosensor, and recycling processes, or proposals that result in practical applications, such as designing engineering processes for the production of bioenergy and processing technologies. We also welcome challenging proposals that are expected to affect not only studies of algae but also other relevant researches as a ripple effect once they reach a breakthrough. And at the same time, proposals that agree with the objective of this field and aim to participate in studies to produce new bioenergies, or bring new perspectives to conventional bio-energy production studies are also be very much accepted.
CREST and PRESTO are operated jointly to enhance synergy between these projects. Mutual information exchange of research progress will occur frequently, and collaboration with other CREST and PRESTO researchers also will be actively pursued.
This Research Area is expected to generate basic technology for the low cost production of biofuels. The use of fossil fuels including crude oil will be decreased with the use of new biofuel production technologies. Furthermore, the establishment of new metabolic pathways in algae and other aquatic microorganisms that lead to the production of chemicals, including precursors of plastics, may change the current dependency on oil among chemical industries. The developed technologies may also afford new opportunities to synthesize novel useful materials that can be used as starting materials for pharmaceuticals, functional foods, etc. New technologies are expected to be achieved within five to ten years through large-scale pilot plant experiments upon completion of this Research Area.

Research Theme



Enhancing and fusing archaeal metabolism: a new approach towards bioenergy production
Haruyuki Atomi
Professor, Kyoto University
Characterization of hydrocarbon biosynthesis and secretion mechanisms by the green microalga, Botryococcus braunii to control biofuel production
Shigeru Okada
Associate Professor, The University of Tokyo
Establishment of innovative technology to create new microalgal strains increasing biofuel production by polyploidization and heavy-ion beam irradiation
Shigeyuki Kawano
Professor, The University of Tokyo
Research on the metabolic pathway of alkenones in marine haptophyte algae and the development of new algal oil production technology
Yoshihiro Shiraiwa
Professor, University of Tsukuba
The Cyanofactory
Koji Sode
Professor, Tokyo University of Agriculture & Technology


Focused biotechnologies suitable for complete utilization of marine macroalgae
Mitsuyoshi Ueda
Professor, Kyoto University
Strategic Construction of Algal Lipid Production System Utilizing Plant Vegetative Organs as a Model
Hiroyuki Ohta
Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Development of an efficient system for free fatty acid production using cyanobacterial mutants affected in nitrate assimilation.
Tatsuo Omata
Professor, Nagoya University
Research on the efficient biosynthesis of nitrogenous substances using artificially optimized nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria
Toru Hisabori
Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Creation of heat and acid tolerant algae toward high biomass production
Shinya Miyagishima
Associate Professor, Research Organization of Information and Systems, National Institute of Genetics


Basic technology development for biofuel production from Euglena using genetic transformation
Takahiro Ishikawa
Professor,Shimane University
Development of key technologies for complete utilization of macroalgae as energy and material resources with unique metabolism of marine microorganisms
Yutaka Nakashimada
Associate Professor,Hiroshima University
Bioalcohol production using synthetic pathway in cyanobacteria
Taizo Hanai
Associate Professor,Kyushu University



Basic studies for overproduction and recovery of value-added materials from autolysed cyanobacterial cells, cultivated under exhaust C02-gas condition
Munehiko Asayama
Professor, School of Agriculture, Ibaraki University
Generation of "super" cyanobacteria with enhanced photosynthetic CO2 assimilation for biofuel production
Hiroki Ashida
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Human Development and Environment Kobe University
Development of photosynthesis organ from Algae assembled electrode device for biofuel conversion system
Yutaka Amao
Professor, Advanced Research Institute for Natural Science and Technology, Osaka City University
Increased production of cyanobacterial PHB by modification of dynamics of sugar metabolism
Takashi Osanai
Senior Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Science, School of Agriculture, Meiji University
Creation of algae fuel direct extraction method from high-moisture microalgae without drying, cell wall disruption, and toxic extractant
Hideki Kanda
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Nagoya University
Creation of new alga using dark light
Tatsuya Tomo
Professor, Faculty of Science, Tokyo University of Science
Establishment of novel technical platforms on the triglyceride metabolic engineering in eukaryotic algae.
Yuki Nakamura
Assistant Research Fellow, Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica
Elucidation of metabolic flux reguration in microalgae for synthesis of high-proliferative cells
Tomohisa Hasunuma
Professor, Organization of Advanced Science and Technology, Kobe University
From glycogen to lipids: Metabolic engineering of a cyanobacterial mutant
Yukako Hihara
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Saitama University
Development of novel bioenergy production system using "synthetic metabolic engineering"
Kohsuke Honda
Associate Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University
Genetic engineering of cyanobacteria to enhance photobiological production of hydrogen
Hajime Masukawa
Special-appointment Associate Professor, The OCU Advanced Research Institute for Natural Science and Technology (OCARINA), Osaka City University


Improvement of cyanobacterial enzymes for alkane biosynthesis
Munehito Arai
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo
Lipids accumulation metabolism in microalgae
Takuro Ito
Project Research Associate, Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Keio University
Achievement of solar energy transformation by utilizing micro-mirrors in aquatics
Masakazu Iwasaka
Professor, Research Institute for Nanodevice and Biosystems, Hiroshima University
Molecular breeding of microalgal for the production of isoprenoid fuels and chemicals
Daisuke Umeno
Associate Professor, Department of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology, Chiba University
Metabolic engineering of differentiated cells of filamentous cyanobacteria for bioalcohol production
Shigeki Ehira
Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate school of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Metropolitan University
Molecular Design of a [NiFeSe]Hydrogenase that catalyzes H2 production under aerobic conditions
Takashi Tamura
Professor, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Okayama University
Development of plant growth promoting system using the fastest motor Chara myosin
Motoki Tominaga
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Science, Waseda University
Transformation in Euglena gracilis: application for biofuel production
Masami Nakazawa
Research associate, Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University
Light regulation of extracellular polysaccaride production by developing various photo-switches
Rei Narikawa
Lecturer, College of Science, Academic Institute, Shizuoka University
Study on the development of a precious metal recycling system coupled with algae biofuel production by using thermophilic red algae
Ayumi Minoda
Assistant professor, Graduate school of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba


Lipid production by cyanobacterial polyketide synthases
Koichiro Awai
Associate Professor, College of Science, Academic Institute, Shizuoka University
Creation of bio-nanomaterial production system using highly functioned algae ferritins
Kenji Iwahori
PRESTO Researcher, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
iPostdoctral Fellow, Graduate School of Materials Science , Nara Institute of Science and Technology)
Establishment of transformation system in Pleurochrysis carterae and application for biofuel production
Hirotoshi Endo
PRESTO Researcher, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
iGraduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Visiting Researcher Molecular Marine Biology Section, Atomosphere and Ocean Research Institute)
Development of enzyme inhibitors on the chlorophyll catabolism of herbivorous protists used for a suppression of feeding damages on algal cultures
Yuichiro Kashiyama
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental and Food Sciences, Fukui University of Technology
Development of a bioenergy production system associated with the accretionary prism in Southwest Japan
Hiroyuki Kimura
Associate Professor, College of Science, Academic Institute, Shizuoka University
Controlling light absorption in algae using theoretical approaches
Keisuke Saito
Lecturer, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo
Modification of a large light-harvesting organelle, chlorosome, as a factory yielding physiologically active substances and lipids.
Yusuke Tsukatani
WPI Researcher, Earth Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology