Diatoms, a major group of photosynthetic microalgae, have a high biotechnological potential that has not been fully exploited because of the paucity of available genetic tools. Here we demonstrate targeted and stable modifications of the genome of the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum, using both meganucleases and TALE nucleases. When nuclease-encoding constructs are co-transformed with a selectable marker, high frequencies of genome modifications are readily attained with 56 and 27% of the colonies exhibiting targeted mutagenesis or targeted gene insertion, respectively. The generation of an enhanced lipid-producing strain (45-fold increase in triacylglycerol accumulation) through the disruption of the UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase gene exemplifies the power of genome engineering to harness diatoms for biofuel production.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was partially supported by Total SA. We would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of the Cellectis Nuclease Production Platform, which provided TALEN reagents and experimental support.