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Oil globular proteins

Technology Number: 


Principal Investigator



Biological Chemistry

Patent Status: 


Over-expression of an oil globule protein for increased production of oil.

Oil globules are discrete organelles, ubiquitous in animals, microorganisms and plants. Plant oil globules contain specific proteins that are tightly bound to their surface. These proteins are suggested to have different roles, including globules formation, degradation and stabilization. The present invention relies on the fact that oil globule associated proteins stabilize the oil bodies, and suggests the induction of one of these proteins as a means to obtain high yields of oil globules. 


  • Higher yields of oil for food and biodiesel

  • Higher yield of the pigment astaxanthin or beta carotene in pigment-accumulating algae


  • Obtaining valuable materials (oil and pigments) with a relatively simple manipulation (i.e., over-expression of the globule-associated protein)
  • Cost-effective

Technology's Essence

In many microorganisms (e.g., yeasts, micro-algae and bacteria), the accumulation of oil globules appears to be induced specifically in response to environmental stresses such as nutrient limitation, high irradiance or osmotic stress. One specific protein, found only in micro-algae, was enriched in isolated globules and in stressed cells, in correlation to astaxanthin accumulation. This correlation makes the protein a promising candidate to function in stress response, and more specifically, in globule buildup. Therefore, it may be expected that its over-expression in plants or in algae could increase the accumulation of oil (tryglycerides).

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