Euglena gracilis is a promising source of commercially important metabolites such as vitamins, wax esters, paramylon, and amino acids. However, the molecular tools available to create improved Euglena strains are limited compared to other microorganisms that are currently exploited in the biotechnology industry. The complex poly-endosymbiotic nature of the Euglena genome is a major bottleneck for obtaining a complete genome sequence and thus represents a notable shortcoming in gaining molecular information of this organism. Therefore, the studies and applications have been more focused on using the wild-type strain or its variants and optimizing the nutrient composition and cultivation conditions to enhance the production of biomass and valuable metabolites. In addition to producing metabolites, the E. gracilis biorefinery concept also provides means for the production of biofuels and biogas as well as residual biomass for the remediation of industrial and municipal wastewater. Using Euglena for bioremediation of environments contaminated with heavy metals is of special interest due to the strong ability of the organism to accumulate and sequester these compounds. The published draft genome and transcriptome will serve as a basis for further molecular studies of Euglena and provide a guide for the engineering of metabolic pathways of relevance for the already established as well as novel applications.
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- Euglena gracilis
- heavy metal remediation
- microalgal metabolites
- molecular tools