EU fellowship to young Nord researcher

Can microalgae in polar regions provide better food, feed and fuel? Chris J. Hulatt (32) and his fellow researchers are going to find out.

By 2050, the Earth will support 10 billion people. Predictions indicate shortages of land for agriculture and fresh water for food production.

It is increasingly clear that the global demand for food and energy must be met by means other than traditional agriculture and fossil fuels

Big challenges, small solutions

Nord University post-doctoral researcher Chris J. Hulatt was recently awarded a prestigious scholarship to further research that will help us solve these global challenges – using very small organisms.

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellowship is awarded to outstanding young researchers in Europe. Hulatt's research centres on microalgae molecular biology and genomics microalgae.

International algae research 

Over the next three years, Hulatt will study the structure and function of the metabolism in microalgae.

Microalgae produce high quality fatty acids, pigments and proteins. 

The biomass of microalgae in polar regions has higher quality fatty acids and pigments than algae in warmer water.

Hulatt will stay at the Colorado School of Mines in the United States under the supervision of Professor Matthew C. Posewitz, followed by a year of research at Nord University, under the supervision of Professor Kiron Viswanath and René Wijffels, who is also a professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Klikk her for å endre bildetOutstanding algae research. From left Chris J. Hulatt, post doctoral researcher, Professor René Wijffels, Dean and Professor Ketil Eiane, Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture and Professor Kiron Viswanath (photo: Per Jarl Elle).   

About the researcher

Chris J. Hulatt is a postdoctoral fellow at Nord University, Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture.

Hulatt has a doctorate in engineering microalgae for industrial CO2 mitigation (2011) from the UK.

Hulatt took his bachelor's degree in marine biology and his master's degree in protection of the marine environment.

Chris J. Hulatt has worked on biogeochemistry and climate warming projects in Finland and London.


What are microalgae?

Microalgae are single-cell microscopic plants that inhabit many different environments, from hot deserts to cold polar seas.

Microalgae use sunlight to bind CO2 via photosynthesis, providing food and oxygen for other organisms. They play a central role in global biogeochemical cycles and climate regulation, but also provide the high-quality food that supports productive marine fisheries.

There are thousands of different species of microalgae.

These algae species are specialized for life in different habitats. Many species of microalgae produce oils, omega-3 fatty acids and natural pigments. In nature, these capabilities help them to survive, but they can also have applications in biotechnology.

Around Norway, specialized microalgae can be found in coldwater lakes and seas, as well as on ice and snow. They have adapted for life under different forms of stress, including sub-zero temperatures, high salinities and bright sunlight.

References

Hulatt, C. J., Berecz, O., Egeland, E. S., Wijffels, R. H., & Kiron, V. (2017). Polar snow algae as a valuable source of lipids?. Bioresource Technology.

Hulatt, C. J., Wijffels, R. H., Bolla, S., & Kiron, V. (2017). Production of Fatty Acids and Protein by Nannochloropsis in Flat-Plate Photobioreactors. PLoS One.