Significance

Stacking traits in microalgae is limited by a lack of robust genome modification tools and selectable marker availability. This presents a key hurdle in developing strains for renewable products including biofuels. Here, we overcome these limitations by combining inducible Cre recombinase with constitutive Cas9 nuclease expression in the industrial strain, Nannochloropsis gaditana. With this system, we demonstrate marker- and reporter-free recapitulation of an important lipid productivity trait. In addition, we generate a strain harboring seven-gene knockouts within the photosystem antennae encoding genes. The combined use of relatively mature (Cre) and emerging (CAS9) genome modification technologies can thus accelerate the pace of industrial strain development and facilitate basic research into functionally redundant gene families.

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