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Mar Drugs. 2019 Aug 5;17(8). pii: E459. doi: 10.3390/md17080459.

Microalgal Enzymes with Biotechnological Applications.

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Marine Biotechnology Department, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, CAP80121 (NA) Villa Comunale, Italy.
Research Infrastructure for Marine Biological Resources Department, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, CAP80121 (NA) Villa Comunale, Italy.
School of Microbiology, University College Cork, College Road, T12 YN60 Cork, Ireland.
Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Lee Road, T23XE10 Cork, Ireland.
Marine Biotechnology Department, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, CAP80121 (NA) Villa Comunale, Italy.


Enzymes are essential components of biological reactions and play important roles in the scaling and optimization of many industrial processes. Due to the growing commercial demand for new and more efficient enzymes to help further optimize these processes, many studies are now focusing their attention on more renewable and environmentally sustainable sources for the production of these enzymes. Microalgae are very promising from this perspective since they can be cultivated in photobioreactors, allowing the production of high biomass levels in a cost-efficient manner. This is reflected in the increased number of publications in this area, especially in the use of microalgae as a source of novel enzymes. In particular, various microalgal enzymes with different industrial applications (e.g., lipids and biofuel production, healthcare, and bioremediation) have been studied to date, and the modification of enzymatic sequences involved in lipid and carotenoid production has resulted in promising results. However, the entire biosynthetic pathways/systems leading to synthesis of potentially important bioactive compounds have in many cases yet to be fully characterized (e.g., for the synthesis of polyketides). Nonetheless, with recent advances in microalgal genomics and transcriptomic approaches, it is becoming easier to identify sequences encoding targeted enzymes, increasing the likelihood of the identification, heterologous expression, and characterization of these enzymes of interest. This review provides an overview of the state of the art in marine and freshwater microalgal enzymes with potential biotechnological applications and provides future perspectives for this field.


-omics technologies; enzymes; heterologous expression; homologous expression; marine biotechnology; microalgae

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