Isolation of microalgae native of the Ionian Sea and their use in the production of high added value products
Brief description of the project
Microalgae are used in many biotechnological applications and simultaneously are an irreplaceable biological material of basic research. Many species are characterized as oleaginous, as they are able to accumulate storage lipids at significant percentages. These lipids are often rich in polyunsaturated fattyacids (PUFAs), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5, n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6, n-3) which are used as additives in human nutrition but also in fish farming as ingredients of fishfeed. Alternatively, microalgal lipids can be used in biodiesel production, substituting plant oils. Except for lipids, microalgae are a great source of pigments, vitamins, inorganic salts, antioxidants, folic acid, bio-active proteins and polysaccharides. Despite the great interest of microalgae worldwide, our knowledge of the native strains of Greek seas islimited. The aim of IonianAlgae is to isolate new microalgal strains of the Ionian Sea and to identify them with molecular techniques. Newly-isolated strains will be the beginning of a collection that will be available to researchers and private companies for research and commercial exploitation. The isolated strains will be cultivated under laboratory conditions and will be characterized on biochemical level and some of them will be cultivated in laboratory bioreactors and studied for their ability to accumulate significant amounts of lipids rich in PUFAs, or less saturated lipids suitable for biodiesel production, polysaccharides, dyes, antioxidants and/or proteins. Finally, a limited number of strains will be selected for adaptive evolution studies in order to optimize the accumulation of storage material, especially lipids, under conditions favorable for accumulation, followed by conditions encouraging the dominance of strains containing energy reserves at high rates.