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Keywords:

  • Adaptation;
  • life-history evolution;
  • selection—artificial;
  • trade-offs

Algae hold promise as a source of biofuel. Yet, the manner in which algae are most efficiently propagated and harvested is different from that used in traditional agriculture. In theory, algae can be grown in continuous culture and harvested frequently to maintain high yields with a short turnaround time. However, the maintenance of the population in a state of continuous growth will likely impose selection for fast growth, possibly opposing the maintenance of lipid stores desirable for fuel. Any harvesting that removes a subset of the population and leaves the survivors to establish the next generation may quickly select traits that escape harvesting. An understanding of these problems should help identify methods for retarding the evolution and enhancing biofuel production.