Dr Elena Kazamia, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Current research: Direct ethanol production from microalgae
One of the main challenges of cultivating microalgae on a large scale for commercial applications is in the form of contaminating species. Bacteria, predators as well as competing organisms colonise culture media and hamper growth of the desired microalgal strain. During my doctoral research I looked at ecological solutions that may address this problem. Drawing on principles from the discipline of algal community ecology, in collaboration with Dr David Aldridge, we devised a set of "assembly rules", which can be used to design a synthetic algal community that is predicted to be inherently more stable against biological perturbations than a monoculture. These are outlined in Kazamia et al. (2012) Synthetic Ecology- A way forward for sustainable algal biofuel production? Journal of Biotechnology, doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.03.022.
I am particularly interested in understanding how microalgae interact with bacterial species. Although most interactions are competitive, in some instances it has been shown that algae and bacteria live mutualistically, supplying each other with nutrients essential for growth. One such nutrient, that our laboratory specialises on, is cobalamin (vitamin B12), a complex metabolite that only some bacterial species are able to synthesise. During my doctoral research I developed a model laboratory system where a vitamin B12 requiring alga, Lobomonas rostrata was shown to obtain the nutrient directly from a vitamin-B12 synthesising bacterium, Mesorhizobium loti. The model system has allowed us to probe the physiology of this interaction, showing that it is facultative and species specific. We have also shown that during the mutualism the partners regulate each other's population dynamics. We have modelled this interaction mathematically, and ongoing research probes its molecular basis.
Currently, I am looking at a different laboratory system, which centers around a cyanobacterial species, that has been engineered to produce ethanol directly. My aim is to apply the principles of synthetic ecology to increase the species' productivity. Finally, I have a broad interest in environmental sustainability issues and feel passionate about evidence based policy making. I therefore endeavor to actively engage with policy makers, and have recently completed a secondment to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (a body withing the Houses of Parliament).
- Email: Elena.Kazamia@plantsci.cam.ac.uk
- Tel: 01223 (3)30219
Kazamia E., Wentworth J., Bioenergy POSTnote410, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, Parliamentary Publications, UK. http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/POST-PN-410
Kazamia E., Aldridge, D.C and Smith, A.G. Synthetic ecology- A way forward for sustainable algal biofuel production? Journal of Biotechnology, doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.03.022
Kazamia E., Czesnick, H., Nguyen, T. T. V., Croft, M. T., Sherwood, E., Sasso, S., Hodson, S. J., Warren, M. J. and Smith, A. G. Mutualistic interactions between vitamin B12-dependent algae and heterotrophic bacteria exhibit regulation. Environmental Microbiology. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02733.x
Pan J., Stephenson A.L., Kazamia E., Huck W.T.S., Dennis, J.S., Smith, A.G and Abell, C. Quantitative tracking of individual algal cells in microdroplet compartments. Integrative Biology 3: 1043-1051.
Stephenson A.L., Kazamia E., Dennis J.S., Howe C.J., Scott S.A. and Smith A.G. (2010) Life-cycle Assessment of potential algal biodiesel production in the United Kingdom: comparison of raceways and air-lift tubular bioreactors. Energy & Fuels 24: 4062-4077
Kazamia E., Helliwell K. E. and Smith A. G. 2010. Vitamin B12- Keeping a Clear Head. The Biochemist: 2010. 32 (6): 20 -24
I have been invited to give a presentation based on abstract submission at:
May 2012: UKERC meeting place: Bioenergy Policy Principles (Oxford, United Kingdom) - oral presentation
Sept. 2011: ESF Conference: Sun to Fuel Technologies-Microorganisms for Biofuel Production from Sunlight (Bielefeld, Germany) - oral presentation
March 2011: Keystone Symposium on Biofuels (Singapore) - poster presentation
June 2010: 14th International Conference on the Cell and Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas (Wheaton College, Boston, USA) - oral presentation
Sept. 2009: SGM Meeting- Bioenergy fuel sources session (Edinburgh, Herriot-Watt University) - oral presentation
Fluent in English, Greek, Russian and French