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Development of Microalgae-based novel high added-value products for the Cosmetic and Aquaculture industry

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ALGAE4A-B (Development of Microalgae-based novel high added-value products for the Cosmetic and Aquaculture industry)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Microalgae are considered an important source of bioactive molecules that can have applications in several fields including nutrition, aquaculture, pharmaceuticals, cosmeceuticals and biofuels. Although microalgae have been commercially cultivated for over 50 years, in depth molecular characterization now seems necessary in order to achieve their full processing capabilities. Of the thirty thousands microalgal species believed to exist, only a few thousand strains are kept in collections around the world, and only a few hundred have been investigated for chemical content. Because they are largely unexplored, microalgae biomass represents a rich source for discovery in both the academic and industrial sectors. In this context, the Algae4A-B project seeks to combine both academia using advanced technological approaches and industry with applied biotechnology research including technologies in the field of biomass production, in order to develop novel microalgae based products aimed towards the aquaculture and cosmetic Industries.
The Algae4A-B is a well-balanced consortium combining four academic laboratories and three industrial partners which share the same main objective which mainly consists in the characterization and the production of customised microalgae biomass, as a source for state-of-the-art high-added-value cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals. Considering all the results obtained during the first two-year span of the project, and in order to complement the generated new knowledge, the main objectives for the 2nd half of the project were:
• Analyze the growth performance of the species P. tricornutum using different growth media, to complement previous results with the species T. chuii.
• Study the growth performance of the species P. tricornutum in large-scale outdoor photobioreactors.
• Evaluate the growth response of the strain T. chuii under mixotrophic conditions in the presence of different carbon sources.
• Establish an optimized protocol for microalgae biomass protein extraction, as a necessary step for further proteomic analysis, using T. chuii as the target species.
• Perform a more in deep characterization of proteolytic activity both in microalgae extracts and hatching liquid.
• Carry out sugar compositional and structural analysis of different polysaccharide fractions obtained from target strains.
• Complete the transcriptomic studies in fish supplied diets supplements microalgal extracts and yeast beta-glucans
• Evaluate the modulation of microbiomes by microalgae and extracts.
• Complete the evaluation the biological effects of microalgae-based compounds in early developmental stages of fish. Carry out an aquaculture trial to determine effects of microalgal extracts on larval plasticity and reprogramming
• Develop protocols to supply the microalgae-based nutraceutical products and assess their usefulness for aquaculture in fish larvae and postlarvae. Determine the effects on growth and immune system
• Complete the studies about ontogeny of immune system. Study of ontogeny during larval development, reprogramming and microbiomes.
• Provide a platform for the efficient transfer of knowledge and training between the academic and the commercial partners.
• Maximize outreach activities and publish the main project results
• Identify and exploit new and emerging market opportunities.
Relevant progress regarding the potential of P. tricornutum as a target species for outdoor cultivation in large scale photobioreactors was made, opening new market opportunities in the microalgae production industry with further applications, between others, in the cosmeceutical sector.
Significant “-omic” resources have been developed on microalgae grown under different growth conditions, and the results revealed that metabolic induction through the adjustment of culture conditions, represents a significant tool for the industrial-scale production of custom quality microalgae biomass. In addition, new data were obtained on the effects of microalgae extracts on fish transcriptome and larval microbiome.
Development of new microalgae extracts and compounds with specific bioactivities suitable for use as novel cosmeceuticals have been developed and tested. Their exact molecular activities have been studied using state-of-the-art analytical techniques. Furthermore, novel tools and biosensors were developed and tested for the high-throughput screening of specific bioactivities and a fish skin model was developed and initially evaluated as an alternative screening tool for cosmetics.
Different protocols were developed and optimized for microalgae in relation to protein extraction, assays for enzyme activities, and purification of polysaccharides, which were also complemented with protocols for hatching liquid collection in two different fish species, all these contributions together meaning significant progress in order to characterize potential bioactivities with interest in the cosmetic industry.
New applications of microalgae in aquaculture were developed specially for larval reprogramming. In addition to these new uses, optimized methods for delivery and preparation of microalgal extracts suitable for immunostimulation were developed.
New cosmeceutical products containing novel microalgae extracts were developed in the setting of WP6. The bioactivity of the extracts was remarkable and definitely within the current cosmetic market while the extracts are feasible to be produced in a sustainable way.
WP9 revealed the financial feasibility and the route to commercialization of novel products coming from the research and development work packages. According to the reports a significant socio-economic impact is expected from the commercial outcome of this project, both concerning aquaculture and cosmetic industries.
The Algae4A-B project combined both basic and applied biotechnology research and technologies with state-of-the-art biomass production technologies, in order to develop novel microalgae based products aimed both towards the aquaculture and cosmetic Industries. After completion of the project, we can assure that all results, contributions and performed activities have contributed to the expected impact, and more specifically:
• well-defined analytical tools have been developed and are available to industrial partners bridging together cosmetics and aquaculture sectors.
• novel microalgae-based bioactive fractions and compounds have demonstrated to have actual potential use for cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and aquaculture fields
• researchers from both academia and industry have been trained on modern biotechnological techniques and methods thanks to performed secondments of staff members
• transfer of knowledge from academia to industrial partners was a successful fact thanks to the close collaboration between partners, thus strengthening the industrial competitiveness in the field of aquaculture and cosmetics
• Training and dissemination activities have made possible an activities collaboration between different stakeholders
• New product developments in epigenetics have been opened for future applications of microalgae establishing in this way the pillars for novle products although still requiring further validation concerning aquaculture and cosmetic industries.