Rosetta Green, a company applying microRNA technology to plants and algae for the cleantech and plant biotech industries (earlier post), and Seambiotic, a company specializing in the growth of algae at industrial scale (earlier post), have signed a collaboration agreement to develop and test improved algal strains for the biofuel industry. According to the agreement, Rosetta Green will be responsible for the development of the strains and Seambiotic will be in charge of large scale algal growth and biofuel production.

The companies will initially focus on increasing the oil content of the algae and producing strains that can better withstand contamination. The companies have formed a joint steering committee that will be responsible for the management and operation of the collaboration.

The proof of concept phase of the collaboration is anticipated to last about two years, during which the companies will explore the development of facilities for producing biofuel from algae on an industrial scale.

Rosetta Green is a recently-formed subsidiary of Rosetta Green. Rosetta Green has in-licensed three patent-pending applications covering the use of microRNAs in agricultural and clean technology applications, with a particular focus on improving feedstocks for biofuels and crops for agriculture.

MicroRNAs are a recently discovered group of short (21–23 nucleotides in length), non-coding control genes that act as master regulators of protein synthesis, and that have been shown to be highly effective biomarkers. Research conducted at Rosetta Green has so far shown a promising potential correlation between the expression of microRNAs and oil content in algae and corn.

Seambiotic is focused on industrial scale algal cultivation using flue gas from power stations to accelerate growth rate. Algae are considered the most promising feedstock for sustainable biofuel production, as they do not require arable land or potable water for growth. Additionally, algae have significantly higher biofuel productivity potential than land crops such as corn and soybean.

The agreement with Rosetta Green is another milestone in the development of the technology to make algae the next generation of biofuel crops. This sort of collaboration which brings together leading companies from complement art fields, such as Seambiotic and Rosetta Green, is the only way to successfully meet the challenges that lie ahead in the field.

—Daniel Chinn, CEO of Seambiotic