With more than 33 years of experience, Dr. Peter Lammers joins ATP3 at a critical time as we forge ahead with designing, conducting and managing advanced field studies at five testbed sites across the country from Hawaii to California, Arizona, Georgia and Florida. By the end of March in 2015, ATP3 will post data and protocols from the spring and summer 2014 Unified Field Studies on openei.org, an open source data warehouse. As Chief Scientist at ATP3, Lammers will ensure the technical content of the program is appropriately targeted and leading-edge. He will direct high impact R&D projects, provide oversight for the development of technical standards, identify new methods and protocol development, and convene the Technology Advisory Board.
Lammers said the challenges and opportunities for the algal biotechnology industry lies within the stability of large quantities of algae monocultures. As a new leader within the ATP3 team, Lammers hopes to address these issues in years to come.
“One major continuing challenge in algal biotechnology is the instability of algal monocultures in large-scale outdoor settings,” he said. “This has been a known issue since the Aquatic Species Program in the 1980s. The advantage of monocultures is the opportunity for strain improvement, just as today’s elite crop varieties are the handiwork of plant breeders.”
The ATP3 team meeting in February 2015 provided a forum for partners Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Arizona State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Florida Algae, Cellana LLC, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of Texas at Austin and Commercial Algae Management to address a variety of issues including monoculture instability. The University of Arizona’s Regional Algal Feedstock Testbed (UA RAFT) also attended this event and contributed meaningful data, experiences, lessons learned and approaches. Continued collaboration between ATP3 and the UA RAFT combined with technical guidance from leading scientists such as Lammers will push the broad network to target advance field studies that moves the needle.
Lammers believes a variety of technical approaches are needed to overcome this monoculture instability bottleneck such as crop protection, use of extremophiles and embracing biodiversity.
“Crop protection systems need to be developed to target invertebrate grazer organisms, bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens and aggressive algal competitors,” he said. “This can be a slow-going process and the threats vary with location. Another approach that has succeeded historically is the use of ‘extremophiles,’ or algae that are able to thrive at extremes of temperature, pH, salinity, etc. Finally, ecological principles suggest another potential winning approach is to embrace biodiversity and identify combinations of algae strains that are more robust together than they would be in monoculture.”
ATP3 continues to build capacity and research capabilities to proactively meet the needs of the algae technology industry. For more information or to inquire about collaboration, contact Jessica Cheng at Jessica.Cheng@asu.edu.
Peter Lammers Background:
Peter Lammers is currently a Research Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment and the Arizona Center for Algal Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University. Previous positions include Technical Director of the Energy Research Laboratory at New Mexico State University (2010-2015), Vice President for Biotechnology at Solix Biosystems (2009-2010) and Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at New Mexico State University (1985-2009). His research interests include biochemical pathway discovery, large-scale algae cultivation, algae-based wastewater treatment systems and algal strain characterization. Lammers is Principal Investigator for a multi-institutional Department of Energy “Algal Biomass Yield” award (2014-2016) and a member of the Editorial Board of the journal “Algal Research.” Lammers received his PhD in 1982 in Environmental Science-Chemistry at Portland State University and received postdoctoral training in Molecular Genetics at the University of Chicago (1982-1985) and Plant Molecular Biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (1984).