COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENTS IN MICROALGAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

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Abstract

A number of important advances have occurred in microalgal biotechnology in recent years that are slowly moving the field into new areas. New products are being developed for use in the mass commercial markets as opposed to the “health food” markets. These include algal-derived long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids, mainly docosahexaenoic acid, for use as supplements in human nutrition and animals. Large-scale production of algal fatty acids is possible through the use of heterotrophic algae and the adaptation of classical fermentation systems providing consistent biomass under highly controlled conditions that result in a very high quality product. New products have also been developed for use in the development of pharmaceutical and research products. These include stable-isotope biochemicals produced by algae in closed-system photobioreactors and extremely bright fluorescent pigments. Cryopreservation has also had a tremendous impact on the ability of strains to be maintained for long periods of time at low cost and maintenance while preserving genetic stability.

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