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Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1308:1-37. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2684-8_1.

Marine Algae: a Source of Biomass for Biotechnological Applications.

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Botany and Plant Science, School of Natural Science, Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland,


Biomass derived from marine microalgae and macroalgae is globally recognized as a source of valuable chemical constituents with applications in the agri-horticultural sector (including animal feeds and health and plant stimulants), as human food and food ingredients as well as in the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, and pharmaceutical industries. Algal biomass supply of sufficient quality and quantity however remains a concern with increasing environmental pressures conflicting with the growing demand. Recent attempts in supplying consistent, safe and environmentally acceptable biomass through cultivation of (macro- and micro-) algal biomass have concentrated on characterizing natural variability in bioactives, and optimizing cultivated materials through strain selection and hybridization, as well as breeding and, more recently, genetic improvements of biomass. Biotechnological tools including metabolomics, transcriptomics, and genomics have recently been extended to algae but, in comparison to microbial or plant biomass, still remain underdeveloped. Current progress in algal biotechnology is driven by an increased demand for new sources of biomass due to several global challenges, new discoveries and technologies available as well as an increased global awareness of the many applications of algae. Algal diversity and complexity provides significant potential provided that shortages in suitable and safe biomass can be met, and consumer demands are matched by commercial investment in product development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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