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Seattle’s Beer Belly Summer of Algae

Yesterday, in a partly sunny Seattle, Matrix Genetics announced it would be spinning off from Targeted Growth to focus on the production of renewable fuels and specialty chemicals from cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). An investment from Avista Development will allow the company to expand laboratories and hire new staff as it sets out on its own.

Matrix’s focus on cyanobacteria comes from the organisms’ simple and well-understood genome. A well-developed set of tools makes modifications to these genomes possible, and researchers at Matrix are most interested in changes that can make cyanobacteria fat with lipids. Cells that can be made to develop these “beer bellies” can be a much more productive source of fuels and other petrochemical replacements. The incredible potential of the increased oil production can be seen in this picture of cyanobacteria that is producing lipids (triglyceride) with, and without, the enhancements.

Matrix made its announcement during a tour of its laboratories with representatives from the offices of local officials and media. The event was part of the Summer of Algae II, the Algae Biomass Organization’s campaign to showcase the promise of algae across the nation.  Several local newspapers and radio stations featured stories with more information about the announcement and Matrix Genetics’ technology:

The Summer of Algae II will continue. Algenol is rescheduling an event in Florida that had to be postponed with the arrival of Hurricane Isaac, and several other companies are planning more open houses in the fall. It’s all leading up to the Algae Biomass Summit in Denver, September 24-27. With all the exciting development of the past year we are expecting a record-sized crowd.

We’ll keep you updated!

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