Skip to main content
olga sayanova


Dr Olga Sayanova

Molecular Biologist Emeritus

Plant Sciences for the Bioeconomy

Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ
+44 (0) 1582 938 734


Olga is a principal investigator. She has a degree in Plant Molecular Genetics from the Vavilov Institute of General Genetics in Moscow where she carried out research focused on improving grain quality by protein engineering. In 1993, she received a Royal Society Fellowship and joined Long Ashton Research Station (University of Bristol) to conduct work on plant lipids. From 1994, Olga has focused her research on the identification of the genes involved in biosynthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and reconstruction of this pathway in transgenic organisms. In 2002, she joined Rothamsted Research to continue her studies on the fatty acid biosynthesis and lipid metabolism in plants. She has extensive expertise in plant metabolic engineering and played an essential role in the first successful reconstitution of omega-3 long-chain PUFA pathway in transgenic oilseeds and microalgae. She is currently leading research on developing synthetic biology approaches to engineer oil seed crops and marine microorganisms for the sustainable production of high value molecules.

Strategic Programme

  • Tailoring Plant Metabolism (TPM)

Science Projects

  • Can oils derived from genetically-modified plants replace fish oil as a source of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the human diet?
  • Algal oils by design: a new biotech platform for high-value lipids
  • Pilot algal lipid manufacturing in the UK (PALM-UK)
  • Validating the commercial potential of genetically modified plant oils in aquaculture via full life-cycle replacement of marine feed ingredients

PhD Projects

  • Engineering Chlorella sorokiniana to produce omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
  • Developing microalgae for biotechnology: lipid metabolism in Phaeodactylum tricornutum


  • 1992 - PhD in Molecular genetics, N.I.Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Moscow
  • 1978 - MSc in Biochemistry (First Class Honours), University of Kishinev

Measures of Esteem

  • Co-supervisor of  PhD students from UCL, Cambridge, UEA

Committee member: 

  • Member of a PhD Evaluation Committee at the University of Grenoble, France
  • Member of GMS Committee at RRES
  • Interview panels member

Invited speaker:

  • 17th ECB :3-6 July 2016, Krakow
  • HVPfp Network Workshop:23 June 2016 York
  • HVPfp Network Workshop:13-14 July 2015, Norwich
  • WI public meeting, 2015 Hertfordshire 
  • Sustainable aquaculture 2015, London
  • Cambridge, Algal Innovation Centre, 2015
  • Seminar at University of Grenoble, 2015
  • Seminar at University of Bordeaux, 2015
  • Invited plenary speaker at the Microbial Lipids meeting, Hamburg, May, 2014
  • Invited plenary speaker at the Gordon Research Conference on Plant Lipids, Texas, USA
  • Invited plenary speaker at the Global omega-3 Summit, Brussels
  • Invited speaker at the Rank Prize meeting
  • Invited presentation, Rothamsted-University of Royal Holloway meeting

Acted as a chair at

  • Eurofed Harpenden 2015
  • Phyconet conference, London, 2015