Special Issue "Microalgae for the Food Industry: From Biomass Production to the Development of Functional Foods"

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Tomas Lafarga
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Almería, 04120 Almería, Spain
Interests: microalgae biotechnology; bioactive compounds; proteins; functional foods; sustainability; waste valorization
Prof. Dr. Francisco Gabriel Acién Fernández
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Almería, 04120 Almería, Spain
Interests: microalgae biotechnology; photosynthesis; sustainability; biomass production; waste valorization; agricultural products
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The increasing global demand for natural resources has drawn special attention to the need to develop new supply pathways based on inexhaustive sources with a reduced environmental impact. The exploitation of photosynthesis is particularly appealing because light, an inexhaustible source of energy, together with carbon dioxide, a chemical component we need to get rid of, are the major ingredients to build up a climate-action-compliant biochemical production chain with unlimited possibilities. Microalgae are one of nature’s finest examples of solar energy conversion systems and are key for a sustainable food supply. These microorganisms are naturally rich in proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and biologically active molecules including valuable pigments. However, although the number of food products containing microalgae has increased during the last decade, microalgae are not yet a common food ingredient. Their production is confined to niche markets where the product high value compensates for high production costs and low yields. Other aspects such as low production capacity, strong organoleptic attributes, strict regulations, and lack of consumer knowledge about their health benefits are limiting their incorporation into foods. Further studies on these aspects are needed and will surely promote the production and consumption of this valuable resource.

Dr. Tomas Lafarga
Prof. Dr. Francisco Gabriel Acién Fernández
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • microalgae production
  • novel culture media
  • agricultural co-products
  • downstream processing
  • cyanobacteria
  • carotenoids
  • proteins
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • pigments
  • functional foods

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Article
Combination of Synergic Enzymes and Ultrasounds as an Effective Pretreatment Process to Break Microalgal Cell Wall and Enhance Algal Oil Extraction
Foods 2021, 10(8), 1928; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/foods10081928 - 19 Aug 2021
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Abstract
Microalgal biomass is a sustainable source of bioactive lipids with omega-3 fatty acids. The efficient extraction of neutral and polar lipids from microalgae requires alternative extraction methods, frequently combined with biomass pretreatment. In this work, a combined ultrasound and enzymatic process using commercial [...] Read more.
Microalgal biomass is a sustainable source of bioactive lipids with omega-3 fatty acids. The efficient extraction of neutral and polar lipids from microalgae requires alternative extraction methods, frequently combined with biomass pretreatment. In this work, a combined ultrasound and enzymatic process using commercial enzymes Viscozyme, Celluclast, and Alcalase was optimized as a pretreatment method for Nannochloropsis gaditana, where the Folch method was used for lipid extraction. Significant differences were observed among the used enzymatic pretreatments, combined with ultrasound bath or probe-type sonication. To further optimize this method, ranges of temperatures (35, 45, and 55 °C) and pH (4, 5, and 8) were tested, and enzymes were combined at the best conditions. Subsequently, simultaneous use of three hydrolytic enzymes rendered oil yields of nearly 29%, showing a synergic effect. To compare enzymatic pretreatments, neutral and polar lipids distribution of Nannochloropsis was determined by HPLC–ELSD. The highest polar lipids content was achieved employing ultrasound-assisted enzymatic pretreatment (55 °C and 6 h), whereas the highest glycolipid (44.54%) and PE (2.91%) contents were achieved using Viscozyme versus other enzymes. The method was applied to other microalgae showing the potential of the optimized process as a practical alternative to produce valuable lipids for nutraceutical applications. Full article
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Review

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Review
Microalgae Derived Astaxanthin: Research and Consumer Trends and Industrial Use as Food
Foods 2021, 10(10), 2303; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/foods10102303 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 482
Abstract
Astaxanthin is a high-value carotenoid currently being produced by chemical synthesis and by extraction from the biomass of the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis. Other microalgae, such as Chlorella zofingiensis, have the potential for being used as sources of astaxanthin. The differences between [...] Read more.
Astaxanthin is a high-value carotenoid currently being produced by chemical synthesis and by extraction from the biomass of the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis. Other microalgae, such as Chlorella zofingiensis, have the potential for being used as sources of astaxanthin. The differences between the synthetic and the microalgae derived astaxanthin are notorious: not only their production and price but also their uses and bioactivity. Microalgae derived astaxanthin is being used as a pigment in food and feed or aquafeed production and also in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Several health-promoting properties have been attributed to astaxanthin, and these were summarized in the current review paper. Most of these properties are attributed to the high antioxidant capacity of this molecule, much higher than that of other known natural compounds. The aim of this review is to consider the main challenges and opportunities of microalgae derived products, such as astaxanthin as food. Moreover, the current study includes a bibliometric analysis that summarizes the current research trends related to astaxanthin. Moreover, the potential utilization of microalgae other than H. pluvialis as sources of astaxanthin as well as the health-promoting properties of this valuable compound will be discussed. Full article
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Review
Microbes: Food for the Future
Foods 2021, 10(5), 971; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/foods10050971 - 28 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1398
Abstract
Current projections estimate that in 2050 about 10 billion people will inhabit the earth and food production will need to increase by more than 60%. Food security will therefore represent a matter of global concern not easily tackled with current agriculture practices and [...] Read more.
Current projections estimate that in 2050 about 10 billion people will inhabit the earth and food production will need to increase by more than 60%. Food security will therefore represent a matter of global concern not easily tackled with current agriculture practices and curbed by the increasing scarcity of natural resources and climate change. Disrupting technologies are urgently needed to improve the efficiency of the food production system and to reduce the negative externalities of agriculture (soil erosion, desertification, air pollution, water and soil contamination, biodiversity loss, etc.). Among the most innovative technologies, the production of microbial protein (MP) in controlled and intensive systems called “bioreactors” is receiving increasing attention from research and industry. MP has low arable land requirements, does not directly compete with crop-based food commodities, and uses fertilizers with an almost 100% efficiency. This review considers the potential and limitations of four MP sources currently tested at pilot level or sold as food or feed ingredients: hydrogen oxidizing bacteria (HOB), methanotrophs, fungi, and microalgae (cyanobacteria). The environmental impacts (energy, land, water use, and GHG emissions) of these MP sources are compared with those of plant, animal, insect, and cultured meat-based proteins. Prices are reported to address whether MP may compete with traditional protein sources. Microalgae cultivation under artificial light is discussed as a strategy to ensure independence from weather conditions, continuous operation over the year, as well as high-quality biomass. The main challenges to the spreading of MP use are discussed. Full article
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