Restricted Research - Award List, Note/Discussion Page

Fiscal Year: 2021

318  The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley  (84614)

Principal Investigator: Persans, Michael

Total Amount of Contract, Award, or Gift (Annual before 2011): $ 250,339

Exceeds $250,000 (Is it flagged?): Yes

Start and End Dates: 9/1/20 - 8/31/24

Restricted Research: YES

Academic Discipline: N/A

Department, Center, School, or Institute: Biology

Title of Contract, Award, or Gift: BE AWARE 2: BioEnergy and Water for Agriculture Research and Education Network 2

Name of Granting or Contracting Agency/Entity: University of Texas at San Antonio/USDA

Program Title: N/A
CFDA Linked: Hispanic Serving Institutions Education Grants


The Persans lab, in conjunction with the DeYoe lab, at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is working with various freshwater and saltwater algal species to use them for two purposes. One is to use them as bio-indicators of water quality for agriculture and the other is to test them for their ability to produce lipids for biofuels. We will also expand our algae prospecting efforts to survey the Rio Grande Valley for species that can grow in harsh temperature and salinity environments while looking for maximal lipid production by each species. The first project involves the use of the algae to test the quality of water for agriculture. Algae have been grown in the laboratory on a small scale to evaluate their ability to uptake heavy metal and metalloid contaminants from water. The algae have been shown to be able to uptake significant amounts of heavy metals from the environment. Using this process, we can identify agricultural water for potential use in algal culture. The data will be given to Dr. Castillo for modeling analysis. Through this survey of the data, large scale processes could be developed in order to optimize water quality for large scale culture using algae as a bio-indicator. The second project involves the small-scale optimization of lipid production by algae for biofuel purposes. There are two species of algae, a freshwater species and a brackish-saltwater species. The freshwater algae will be tested for its ability to grow in less-than-optimal quality freshwater. It will be tested to see if this is possible so that the freshwater used for the production of biofuel does not come from the same source as water for agriculture. A second option is to further develop the use of saltwater from brackish water sources or the ocean as a growth medium for algae for biofuel. The lab has been working on growth conditions of a saltwater alga which favors the production of lipids in the cells. The data from these algal growth studies will be transferred to Dr. Castillo for use in the modeling of larger scale processes for biofuel production. A third focus of this work is to extract lipids from various algal species and have them identified by our third collaborator Dr. Felix Roman of The University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM). UTRGV will grow algae for lipid extraction so that Dr. Roman can analyze the samples with his analytical equipment and report back to UTRGV and UTSA with his findings. Using these data, we will screen for algal species that produce the most lipids. The wet laboratory studies undertaken at UTRGV will provide model data that can be analyzed by Dr. Castillo’s group at UTSA for upscaling and industrial production purposes. The outcome of the research collaboration will be characterizing water of suitable quality for algal production and a better understanding of the processes that govern algal growth and their use in creating a model that can be up-scaled for industrial level purposes. SAMs 1.3.2

Discussion: No discussion notes


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