Development of microalgal industries in the past 60 years due to biotechnological research in China: a review

F. Gao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Microalgae are unicellular photosynthetic microorganisms. About 1500 years ago, at the Jin Dynasty, the Chinese consumed microalgae as food and tried its use as traditional medicines. During the “three-year period of famine” from 1959 to 1962, the central Chinese government encouraged scientists to conduct research on the cultivation of Chlorella as a food substitute, thus initiating the early developmental stage of microalgal biotechnology. A newer biotechnological innovation was conceived in the 1980s, when the national strategy which states that “Spirulina should be taken as a protein supplement by the Chinese” was instituted. Since then several key biotechnological innovations have been developed over the past 60 years, which are related to the breeding of microalgal species, raceway pond and tubular photobioreactor technology and “from 0–1” originality of microalgal cultivation modes. In China, a series of breakthroughs as regards the biomass scaling-up of Spirulina, Chlorella, Haematococcus pluvialis, and Euglena gracilis have been achieved; this has therefore made China the largest producer of microalgal biomass globally. The core missions of the research and development of microalgal biotechnology in China are to reduce production cost, and develop new bio-economy modes for both precise application and environmental governance through microalgal biomass usage.
Original languageChinese
JournalScientia Sinica Vitae
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2020

Cite this