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Cécile Formosa-Dague

Cécile Formosa-Dague

session, year:
2016 2nd


Receiving laboratory:
UMR LISBP Engineering of Biological Systems and Processes, Toulouse

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Mobility project

Enhancing flotation efficiency by functionalizing bubbles with algal cell wall constituents

In the context of climate change and increasing energy needs of the world population, the global interest for sustainable sources to produce energy is growing. One promising resource for biofuel production is microalgae, but their industrial use is limited by the lack of efficient harvesting techniques. Flotation represents a promising harvesting technique that consists in transforming air into bubbles through a solid/liquid suspension. Microalgae get attached to the bubbles produced and are carried out and accumulated on the surface, without being altered. However lack of fundamental research aiming at improving this method makes it for the moment not attractive for industrials. This research project aims at better understanding the biophysics of flotation process. Fundamental knowledge, at the single cell and single molecule level will be acquired and further used to improve algae harvesting by flotation. To achieve this goal we will first deconstruct and analyse the cell wall of the model green algae, Chlorella vulgaris, and evaluate each constituent for its adhesion-aggregation potential using optical tweezers (OT). Then bubbles generated by dissolved air flotation (DAF) will be functionalized with the most promising cell wall constituent and their efficiency for harvesting microalgae will be tested thanks to FluidFM technology. This research project will provide new information on the molecular mechanisms underlying microalgae flotation as well as new ways to improve the efficiency of flotation without damaging the cells and their content.

Biography & research interests

I studied fundamental microbiology and biotechnologies at the university Paul Sabatier of Toulouse, in France. After obtaining my master degree in 2011, I started a PhD, in 2012, at the Laboratoire d’Analyse et d’Architecture des Systèmes (LAAS-CNRS) in Toulouse. During this PhD, I have worked on important issues related to multidrug resistant microorganisms using nanobiotechnologies, more specifically Atomic Force Microscopy. Afterwards, I chose to do a postdoc in Belgium at the Université catholique de Louvain, between 2015 and 2017, in the nanobiophysics field in which I could learn to lead an original research project using a multidisciplinary approach. Indeed, during this postdoc, I had the opportunity to work on biofilm formation by bacterial pathogens, but more interestingly, I could work on my research project with scientists with different scientific backgrounds. These two research experiences led me to develop research interests in biological interfaces and their interactions with their environment or with other interfaces. To address these challenges, I develop multidisciplinary approaches, at the frontier between biology, chemistry and physics.

Selected publications

Feuillie C, Formosa-Dague C, Hays LM, Vervaeck O, Derclaye S, Brennan MP, Foster TJ, Geoghegan JA, Dufrêne YF, 2017. Molecular interactions and inhibition of the staphylococcal biofilm-forming protein SdrC., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 114(14):3738-3743.

Formosa-Dague C*, Duval RE, Dague E*, 2017. Cell biology of microbes and pharmacology of antimicrobial drugs explored by Atomic Force Microscopy. Semin Cell Dev Biol, 73:165-176, *corresponding authors.

Formosa-Dague C, Speziale P, Foster TJ, Geoghegan JA, Dufrêne YF, 2016. Zinc-dependent mechanical properties of Staphylococcus aureus biofilm-forming protein SasG. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 113(2):410-415.

Formosa C, Pillet F, Schiavone M, Duval RE, Ressier L, Dague E, 2015. Generating living cells arrays for Atomic Force Microscopy studies. Nat Protoc, 10(1):199-204.

Formosa C, Grare M, Jauvert E, Coutable A, Regnouf-deVains JB, Mourer M, Duval RE, Dague E, 2012. Nanoscale analysis of the effects of antibiotics and CX1 on a Pseudomonas aeruginosa multidrug-resistant strain, Sci Rep, 2:575. Doi: 10.1038/srep00575.

Awards & patents

Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) PhD award: obtained for presenting the best PhD funded by the DGA.

American Society for Microbiology (ASM) travel grant: to attend the 7th ASM Biofilms conference in Chicago, IL, USA, October 2015.

SANOFI award: from the Académie des Sciences

Inscriptions et Belles Lettres de Toulouse, obtained for presenting the best thesis in biology-health with concrete applications.

Pierre Favard Award: from the Société Française de Microscopie (SFµ), obtained for presenting the best PhD thesis in living sciences which principal tool is a microscopy technique.

George McCracken Infectious Disease Fellow Award: from the American Society for Microbiology, travel grant to attend the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in Denver, CO, USA, in 2013.


Biofuel, Microalgae, Flotation, Molecular interactions, Biophysics