Sino-German cooperation obtains anew funding

The Sino-German Centre for the Promotion of Science selected a project proposal from Prof. Thomas Happe and colleagues for funding. Prof. Happe, born in Herne, is leading the photobiotechnology group of the Ruhr-University Bochum and initiator of SolarBioproducts of the Business Development Agency Herne.
On behalf of the mobility program the application of platform technology for hydrogen and starch accumulation in algae is funded for 3 years (2020-2022). Prof. Jian Xu, Director of the single cell centre in Qingdao and former collaboration partner, is the chinese partner in this project.
By this program, the exzellent scientific exchange and collaboration of the sino-german partners of the institue for algal bioenergy can be contiunued. It is planned to organize research stays in the institutes of our partners as well as scientific symposiums in the Ruhr area and the Shandong province. SolarBioproducts Ruhr in Herne is supporting the scientific team by the organisation of the workshops with its expertise. The projects starts as soon as the COVID-19 pandemy will allow travelling.

DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - Chinesisch-Deutsches ...


Qingdao Energy Institute and Ruhr University Bochum reveal the dynamic remodeling of cellular proteins during oil production stress for industrial microalgae

Industrial microalgae can synthesize large quantities of oils and fats under nitrogen-deficient stress to be used for biofuels, and this stress response is one of the scientific bases of energy from microalgae. The single-cell center of Qingdao Energy Institute and the Photobiotechnology group at Ruhr University Bochum used proteomics to construct a dynamic metabolic adaptation model to the nitrogen deficiency stress, which reveals three physiological stages of the stress response, and provides a new perspective for oil metabolism engineering. This work was published in Biotechnology for Biofuels.

The process of lipid accumulation of triacylglycerol(TAG)-producing microalgae under nitrogen limitation has been intensively studied by academics and industry. Previous work at single-cell center built mechanistic models based on transcripts and metabolites (Plant Cell, 2014,10.1105/tpc.113.121418), However, there are important differences in the experimental data at the levels of transcriptome and metabolome that cannot be fully explained by the time delay between gene expression and metabolic regulation. This may be due to the fact that the process from transcription to metabolic change is still regulated at the protein level.  

In response to this problem, Wuxin You and Li Wei, who led the Chinese-German joint research team, published for microalgae under nitrogen deficiency the time series of proteomic data, integrated with the corresponding transcriptome and metabolome by applying the latest statistical analysis methods, This approach more comprehensively revealed the process characteristics of  nitrogen deficiency stress-triggered synthesis of TAG in cells. 

The researchers found that the process can be divided into three phases (see Figure). First of all, the initial stage of nitrogen deficiency: at this time the cell senses the lack of nitrogen in the environment, but because there is still a certain amount of nitrogen reserves in the cell, the change in its metabolic process is not obvious. Second, the middle stage of nitrogen deficiency: the cell’s reserves of nitrogen have been mostly consumed. Through protein degradation and other means to recover nitrogen in amino acids, the operation of the cell's key metabolic processes is maintained, while photosynthesis and lipid metabolism and other processes have been affected to varying degrees. 3. Nitrogen deficiency late phase: cells further increase the rate of protein degradation, while the rate of TCA cycle and TAG synthesis increases significantly, the rate of photosynthesis has decreased but is still working.  

This revised model more accurately depicts the nitrogen-deficient oil production process and further demonstrates that the de novo TAG synthesis plays a leading role in the accumulation of lipids, while membrane lipid recovery represents only a small part of lipid accumulation. This model provides a series of new strategies and objectives for the directed regulation of microalgae metabolism regulatory network to improve the yield of TAG. 

The co-authors of this paper are Dr. Wuxin You of Ruhr University in Germany and Dr. Wei Li of Qingdao Energy Institute and, in collaboration with the Department of Plant Biochemistry at Ruhr University in Germany and the Qingdao Energy Institute Single Cell Center. The study was supported by the Carbon Gas Biotransformation Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion, and the BMBF (“Sigal4NRG”).



You, W., Wei, L.  ※, Gong, Y., El Hajjami, M., Xu, J. *, & Poetsch*, A. (2020) Integration of proteome and transcriptome refines key molecular processes underlying oil production in Nannochloropsis oceanica. Biotechnol Biofuels 13:209.


The sino-german Sigal4NRG team recently published their results to the topic “Transcriptomic and Proteomic Choreography in Response to Light Quality Variation Reveals Key Adaption Mechanisms in Marine Nannochloropsis Oceanica in the Journal Sci Total Environ.

The Sigal4NRG group congratulates Wuxin You on obtaining his doctoral degree! His thesis had the title "Multi-Omics analyses reveal the global regulation network of microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica under stress conditions".

Congratulions to the Sigal4NRG team that recently published new results. The publication “Transcriptomic and Proteomic Responses to Very Low CO2 Suggest Multiple Carbon Concentrating Mechanisms in Nannochloropsis oceanica is part of the Biotechnol Biofuels journal.

We are delighted about the publication of our Sino-German Sigal4NRG-Team on “Knockdown of carbonate anhydrase elevates Nannochloropsis productivity at high CO2 level” in Metabolic Engineering (in press).

We are delighted about the publication of our Sino-German Sigal4NRG-Team on “Proteomic study uncovers molecular principles of single-cell-level phenotypic heterogeneity in lipid storage of Nannochloropsis oceanica in Biotechnology for Biofuels.

The 2nd symposium ended successfully                 

The Chinese and German project partners of Sigal4NRG can look back on a successful three day joint symposium in Qingdao. The Chinese project leaders Prof. Dr. Bo Ma and Prof. Dr. Jian Xu and the German project leaders Prof. Dr. Thomas Happe and Ass. Prof. Dr. Ansgar Poetsch welcomed about 50 international guests in all to the Crowne Plaza Qingdao from 26th to 28th November.

Invited guests from the USA, Belgium, France, Scotland, Germany, Korea and China attended the symposium „Single Cells – Recent Trends in Microbial Biotechnology & Nannochloropsis Synthetic Biology“. Jens Hofmann, science counsellor of the German embassy in Beijing, and Xuyong Wu, deputy director of Qingdao Science and Technology Bureau, officially opened the event.As special guests Vera Esser from SolarBioproducts Ruhr of the Business Development Agency Herne, and the dean of the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology of the Ruhr-University Bochum, Prof. Dr. Dominik Begerow, were welcomed. At the beginning, every representative from research and industry got a scientific excursion to the Single Cell Center and the QIBEBT institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other institutes like the Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology and the BGI Campus in Qingdao. Enterprises, like the Bright Moon Seaweed Group Co. Ltd. were part of the excursion as well. In the following two days the scientists and industrial representatives presented their results by scientific talks and poster sessions during the symposium. Part of the scientific range of subjects were the production of hydrogen and high-value products by the green algae Chlamydomonas and Nannochloropsis, the RAMAN cell sorting, the enzyme extraction for biotechnological applications, genome editing and the production of bioethanol by cyanobacteria. Complementary, Sarah Potts from the American enterprise Synthetic Genomics Inc. and Dr. Laurent Fourage from the company TOTAL RC Biofuels Division reported about the current challenges of the industrial application of algae for the production of biofuels. The participants extensively used the breaks to exchange the latest research results, thus many new contacts could be established. Prof. Jian Xu proposed measures for a strong international networking that met a lot of interest. Together, the Sino-German Sigal4NRG team looked back at the beginning of the project in August 2017 and the successful collaboration. They are happy about the achieved aims of the cooperation, like e.g. the official launch of the “Sino-German Lab for Algal Bioenergy” in April 2018 as well as the implementation of two international symposiums in China.

Press release CAS-QIBEBT

(c) SUN Mingming

The second symposium at the CAS-QIBEBT in Qingdao is raring to go

The time has come: at the end of November the project partners of Sigal4NRG will meet many invited international guests and experts of the biotechnology sector in Qingdao. This scientific exchange will be about Single cells - current trends in microbial biotechnology. The symposium starts with a one-day excursion to relevant industrial sites and institutes in Qingdao and its surrounding area. Afterwards there will be a two-day workshop with high-quality lectures of every participant and interactive discussions. The Sino-German project team looks forward to a fruitful and successful symposium.

During the Industrial Synthetic Biology Congress in Munich the project coordinator Dr. Ansgar Poetsch presented the project Sigal4NRG and initiated talks with numerous representatives from research and industry. The two-day congress brought together over 150 international guests from science and economy. In over 36 presentations the participants focused on the latest industrial application fields for synthetic biology.

Information leaflet about Sigal4NRG published

We are glad to announce, that a flyer with detailed information about the Sino-German Lab for Algal Bioenergy is available as download.
Leaflet Sigal4NRG


Sino-German Laboratory for Algal Bioenergy Officially Launched

From April 7th to 12th, Prof. Thomas Happe from the Photobiotechnology laboratory and Dr. Ansgar Poetsch from the Plant Biochemistry Group of Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) together with Prof. Axel Mosig of the Bioinformatics laboratory of RUB and five additional RUB researchers and one guest from Shanghai visited the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS-QIBEBT). Prof. Xuefeng Lv, the institute deputy director of QIBEBT, as well as Prof. Jian Xu and Prof. Bo Ma from the “Single Cell Center” gave a warm reception to the guests. At the visit, the two sides officially launched the “Sino-German Laboratory for Algal Bioenergy” (Sigal4NRG), which is a program funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. At its first academic committee meeting, the partners of Sigal4NRG reviewed their fruitful collaboration and planned additional collaborations in fields such as microalgal synthetic biology, microalgal genome engineering and Raman-activated single cell sorting. Representatives from RUB and CAS-QIBEBT officially opened the “Sino-German Laboratory for Algal Bioenergy” and signed a formal cooperation agreement. Sigal4NRG will combine German side's expertise in Chlamydomonas photosynthesis, proteomics and image processing and Chinese side’s strength in Nannochloropsis metabolism engineering, Ramanome and single-cell analysis instrument development, thus jointly developing synthetic biology solutions for solving the key bottlenecks in feedstock development for the microalgal bioenergy industry.

Press release CAS-QIBEBT

The scientist Christina Marx accompanied a municipal delegation into the Chinese province Sichuan. Within the 4-day trip through Chengdu and Luzhou representatives of the city, economy and science had the opportunity to exchange with Chinese representatives from politics and economy. The delegation trip aims to create synergies for joint project developments to integrate into the project Sigal4NRG.

Press release: Town twinning with Luzhou in China gets concrete


Green cutting-edge research in China and Germany - a video clip of the campaign of the Ruhr Metropolis is published

The Sino-German Lab for Algal Bioenergy is part of a clip of the Ruhr Metropolis (Regional Association Ruhr). In the scope of an image campaign the Ruhr Metropolis together with the coordinator of Sigal4NRG, Dr. Christina Marx, published a clip about algae research on YouTube.

A Chinese delegation together with the team of Sigal4NRG visit the research center in Jülich. The Chinese representatives, who amongst others are associates of the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, are also members of the Cluster Industrial Biotechnology (CLIB2021). By the journey of the Chinese delegation, the project team of Sigal4NRG aims to enhance the international exchange and to support scientific collaborations. All participants will attend the subsequent CLIB2021 conference to focus on the initiation of research collaborations within the field of biotechnology.

Federal Ministry funds German-Sino research laboratory
Press release of Ruhr-University Bochum

Press release of the federal ministry of research and education

Christina Marx attends the on „Access to the emerging Chinese market – Framework and subsidies for the biotech industry in NRW“, which provides an overview of the Chinese biotech industry. The workshop informs scientists and entrepreneurs from Germany about China as business location and cultural distinctions and challenges.

Further information