Konrad Basse Fisker

Kingdom of Denmark

EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS)

Integration of DSUP in Nannochloropsis Oceanica


My name is Konrad Basse Fisker, I am from Denmark and was nominated to SIYSS as the winner of the European Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS). NASA and SpaceX intend to land a manned mission on Mars within the next decade and one issue is how to feed the astronauts. Bringing enough food would be much more expensive than growing your own on Mars. For this purpose, algae farming would be a super nutritious and high-productive food source. In contrast to Earth, Mars doesn’t have a strong magnetic field, which is needed to shield the planet from harmful radiation from space. Harmful radiation breaks DNA which will be fatal for any organisms that will be grown on Mars. To solve this problem, I wanted to gene modify an algae to become more resistant against radiation. I did this by copying DNA from tardigrades to the algae. Tardigrades are animals that can survive intense radiation. The DNA I copied from them encodes for a protein called the Dsup-protein, which has been shown to protect DNA from radiation damage in several studies. When exposed to ionizing radiation, I expect the gene modified algae to show a higher survivability than non-gene modified algae.