Can we trick cyanobacteria into growing faster?

Paradise Valley High School-CREST
Phoenix, Arizona
BiologyEarth Science
DOI: 10.18258/3496
Raised of $200 Goal
Funded on 10/16/14
Successfully Funded
  • $200
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 10/16/14

About This Project

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic organisms that can be used to produce liquid biofuels. One of the biggest challenges with using cyanobacteria is that they grow rather slowly. Can we use plant hormones to increase biomass production in cyanobacteria cultures?

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What is the context of this research?

Today the world faces an increasing demand for liquid fuel products. However, our current method of satisfying this need is the use of fossil fuels from petroleum products. Not only are petroleum products a limited resource, when they are burned they release harmful byproducts into the atmosphere that play a role in global climate change.

Biofuels from cyanobacteria a carbon neutral alternative to using fossil fuels. However, they grow rather slow in cultures. Our research team may have a solution to this challenge. We hypothesize that the use plant hormones may be able to increase biomass productivity in a shorter amount of time.

What is the significance of this project?

If our project is successful, it may lead to a decrease in the cost and time it takes to grow full cyanobacterial cultures. If this is the case it may allow cyanobacteria based biofuels a more financially feasible alternative to conventional liquid fossil fuels.

What are the goals of the project?

This project has two immediate goals:
1) Observe the effect of Indole 3 Acetic Acid on Oscillatoria prolifera
2) Hopefully coax the cyanobacteria into increasing biomass production.


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Our group needs funding mainly because we are high school students who do not have an excessive amount of disposable income. Also, our lab is running over 16 different research projects so the amount of funding our school can provide to us is quite limited. Without this funding it is unlikely that we will be able to complete our research.

Meet the Team

Matthew Pandelakis
Matthew Pandelakis
Rachel Lepore
Rachel Lepore
Brette Vernier
Brette Vernier

Team Bio

I am a senior in the CREST Biotechnology Program at Paradise Valley High School. Currently, I am an intern at ASU's Biodesign Institute in the Molecular Design and Biomimicry Lab.

As part of CREST, all seniors in the Biotechnology program are required to enter a research project into the International Science and Engineering Fair. I happen to have an extreme interest in climate change, and I like looking at alternative sources of energy that we can use that don't dramatically change the lives of most people. Biofuels happens to be one of those energy sources.

When I am not at the lab bench, I can be found sleeping, playing guitar, traveling around the world, taking pictures of riots, or getting into mild trouble with my friends.

Brette Vernier

I am currently a student in the CREST Biotechnology program at Paradise Valley High School. As part of the program, I have taken Honors Principles of Biotechnology, Honors Cell Biology, Honors Genetics, and Honors Microbiology. My interests include forensic anthropology and psychology.

Lab Notes

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Project Backers

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  • 100%Funded
  • $200Total Donations
  • $25.00Average Donation
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