Interest in bulk biomass from microalgae, for the extraction of high-value nutraceuticals, bio-products, animal feed and as a source of renewable fuels, is high. Advantages of microalgal vs. plant biomass production include higher yield, use of non-arable land, recovery of nutrients from wastewater, efficient carbon capture and faster development of new domesticated strains. Moreover, adaptation to a wide range of environmental conditions evolved a great genetic diversity within this polyphyletic group, making microalgae a rich source of interesting and useful metabolites. Microalgae have the potential to satisfy many global demands; however, realization of this potential requires a decrease of the current production costs. Average productivity of the most common industrial strains is far lower than maximal theoretical estimations, suggesting that identification of factors limiting biomass yield and removing bottlenecks are pivotal in domestication strategies aimed to make algal-derived bio-products profitable on the industrial scale. In particular, the light-to-biomass conversion efficiency represents a major constraint to finally fill the gap between theoretical and industrial productivity. In this respect, recent results suggest that significant yield enhancement is feasible. Full realization of this potential requires further advances in cultivation techniques, together with genetic manipulation of both algal physiology and metabolic networks, to maximize the efficiency with which solar energy is converted into biomass and bio-products. In this review, we draft the molecular events of photosynthesis which regulate the conversion of light into biomass, and discuss how these can be targeted to enhance productivity through mutagenesis, strain selection or genetic engineering. We outline major successes reached, and promising strategies to achieving significant contributions to future microalgae-based biotechnology.

Biomass from microalgae: the potential of domestication towards sustainable biofactories

Benedetti, Manuel;
2018-01-01

Abstract

Interest in bulk biomass from microalgae, for the extraction of high-value nutraceuticals, bio-products, animal feed and as a source of renewable fuels, is high. Advantages of microalgal vs. plant biomass production include higher yield, use of non-arable land, recovery of nutrients from wastewater, efficient carbon capture and faster development of new domesticated strains. Moreover, adaptation to a wide range of environmental conditions evolved a great genetic diversity within this polyphyletic group, making microalgae a rich source of interesting and useful metabolites. Microalgae have the potential to satisfy many global demands; however, realization of this potential requires a decrease of the current production costs. Average productivity of the most common industrial strains is far lower than maximal theoretical estimations, suggesting that identification of factors limiting biomass yield and removing bottlenecks are pivotal in domestication strategies aimed to make algal-derived bio-products profitable on the industrial scale. In particular, the light-to-biomass conversion efficiency represents a major constraint to finally fill the gap between theoretical and industrial productivity. In this respect, recent results suggest that significant yield enhancement is feasible. Full realization of this potential requires further advances in cultivation techniques, together with genetic manipulation of both algal physiology and metabolic networks, to maximize the efficiency with which solar energy is converted into biomass and bio-products. In this review, we draft the molecular events of photosynthesis which regulate the conversion of light into biomass, and discuss how these can be targeted to enhance productivity through mutagenesis, strain selection or genetic engineering. We outline major successes reached, and promising strategies to achieving significant contributions to future microalgae-based biotechnology.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/135697
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