Johan Andersen-Ranberg

Johan Andersen-Ranberg

Assistant Professor

Primary fields of research

Algae biosynthesis for sustainability and beyond

Take a deep breath…. Fill your lungs with oxygen…. This is the oxygen that algae have made from CO2 over millions of years. But instead of just making oxygen from CO2 can we use algae to make other things that we need in our society? This is the focus of my research and at the core of the ongoing activities in my research group.

Assistant Professor


  • Johan Andersen-Ranberg
  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
  • Faculty of Science
  • Post doc. at University of California Berkeley in Prof. Krishna Niyogi’s laboratory. Characterization of genes involved in pigment biosynthesis in stramenophile algae.
  • PhD thesis title: Biosynthesis of High Value Bioactive Natural Products. University of Copenhagen
  • MSc. in Applied Biotechnology. Master thesis title: Utilizing Synthetic Biology in Cyanobacteria. University of Uppsala
  • Bsc. Medicine and technology. The Technical University of Denmark.


Nannochloropsis oceanica CCMP1779 (N. oceanica) is an oleaginous eukaryotic microalga, which in recent years has gained attention among researchers and industry due to its ability to accumulate high levels of oil, fatty acids and other non-polar compounds. N. oceanica is a marine organism hence it does not require high-quality fresh water as required for uses in agriculture and by humans.

Phylogentically N. oceanica belongs to the SAR super group that are responsible for more than 40% of the annual CO2 fixation on Earth. Evolutionary N. oceanica is very distantly related to phototrophic organisms from the green linage, including plants that are more commonly studied. With its unique evolutionary origin and potential as a sustainable production host I seek to uncover both novel biology and develop technologies for N. oceanica for it to be employed in sustainable solutions for the future   


The long-term goal of my work and the work in my research group is to establish N. oceanica as a production system and novel agricultural crop for production of high value molecules that benefits society. Such an algae-based production system will be a sustainable production system here on Earth with all the properties that makes it suitable for producing essential products for long duration space fares e.g. Mars colonization.

Current projects

  • Developing gene engineering tools for N. oceanica to facilitate its development into a light driven production host for producing high value molecules from CO2.
  • Pigment biosynthesis in eukaryotic algae.
  • Development and commercialization of production platforms for plant natural compounds used in non-lethal rodent pest control products.
  • Biosynthesis of coffee flavor compounds


  • Genetic engineering of eukaryotic algae.
  • Stramenophile algae species
  • Plant diterpenoid biosynthesis
  • Genetic engineering of S. cerevisiae
  • Carotenoid biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P450 enzymes
  • Heterolgous bioproduction
  • Commercialization of engineered bioproduction hosts.


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