Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Hot Time in St. Louis

Temperatures were at near records as a massive heat wave engulfed the Midwest. The Cardinals were out of town, but Bono and U2 were present in St. Louis along with the 1st International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels & Bioproducts. While I didn’t have a ticket for the concert, I did have one for the conference. The algal conference, which ran from July 17-20, began with an opening reception on Sunday evening where invited speakers, attendees and vendors mingled over finger food and beverages. The meeting was sponsored by the Biomass Program, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NAABB, and the NBB and organized by Elsevier publishing. The meeting chairmen, Richard Sayre and Jose Olivares, put together a remarkable array of 50 different speakers and 180 posters from the algal community. The meeting, as intended, was truly international in scope, with over 300 attendees from 30 different countries being represented. The meeting proper was opened the following morning with remarks from United States Congressman Russ Carnahan, a leader in energy policy elected to serve Missouri’s Third District since 2004. In his opening remarks, he mentioned the need to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. The meeting opened with presentations on the methods for screening and identification of algae strains and species that have optimal growth and lipid production properties. Other presentations focused on the manipulation of algae through growth conditions, nutrient deprivation and genetic means to further improve the sustainability, lipid profile, and infection resistance of identified algae species.

BioTek Instruments participated as a supporting exhibitor where we displayed the Synergy H1 Hybrid Multi-Mode Microplate Reader as well as the Eon UV-Vis Microplate Spectrophotometer. In addition to the hardware on display, several application notes related to lipid production in algal cultures.

Besides algal species work, a great deal of information regarding optimal algae production facilities was provided. Intricate closed loop algal systems and large multi-acre open race ponds were described and the advantages and disadvantages of each system type were discussed. Included in the discussions was the ability of these systems to be adapted for the use of algae to serve in waste water remediation. Lastly several prototype technologies and theoretical computer modeling systems were discussed as the three day meeting came to a close. The meeting was certainly a success. The organizers mentioned that when they started to put things together they hoped that they could get between 150-200 attendees. In the end 300 attended and at least another 100 had to be turned away due to space constraints. I’m already looking forward to next year’s meeting in San Diego.


St. Louis
Moonrise over the Gateway Arch in St. Louis



By, BioTek Instruments, Dr. Paul Held, Lab Manager

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