Biochem Chair to Discuss Fuel Potential of Algae


Paul Black, professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and director of the Center for Biological Chemistry at UNL, will present “The Oily Side of Algae” at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the Hardin Hall Auditorium, at 33rd and Holdrege streets. His talk is part of the School of Natural Resources Fall Seminar Series that is exploring interdisciplinary connections. Black and his team are researching whether oil produced by algae can become a source of biomass for renewable fuels.

Black received a B.S. in Zoology in 1978 from Colorado State University; a Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 1983 from the University of Vermont, and did a postdoc in Biochemistry from 1983 to 1985 at the University of California-Irvine. Before joining UNL in 2008, he was at the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences, Albany Medical College, in New York, and previously in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Memphis.

We are working on defining lipid metabolic pathways in eukaryotic green algae as part of a collaborative effort to exploit algae as a source of biomass for renewable fuels. These efforts include the establishment of facilities for large-scale growth of algae and genetic engineering of metabolic pathways to maximize triglyceride production or fatty acid secretion. Our work combines traditional molecular genetics and biochemistry with cell and animal nutritional and metabolic studies and includes experimental work directed to define protein structure and delineate mechanism. This interdisciplinary approach to address fatty acid transport and trafficking has yielded seminal information describing many of the basic biochemical mechanisms operational in these processes.