Undergraduates Meredith Bailey and Adam Beitz were awarded SC Space Grant EPSCOR Fellowships this summer. Working in Dr. Blenner’s lab, they tested the impact of the PEX7, PEX11, and PEX16 genes in Yarrowia lipolytica on peroxisome size, number, and ability to produce PHA. The three different PEX genes were knocked out and over expressed to test the necessity of the genes for proper peroxisome formation and function. Y. liploytica readily accumulates lipids and is thus a promising microbe for bioproduction of lipid based chemicals, including products required for long term space travel such as Omega-3 fatty acids. They utilized the CRISPR Cas9 system to produce knockouts of every gene in the genome of Y. liploytica to determine which genes are essential for metabolism and growth and which were nonessential. Additionally, they worked to determine which genes were essential for metabolism of alternative carbon sources as glucose, the main sugar used in bioprocessing, will not be available in large quantities for long term space travel. Their project is laying the foundation for future researchers to engineer Y. liploytica to optimally produce Omega-3 fatty acids and other products to help enable astronauts to thrive during extended space exploration.