Prospects for viruses infecting eukaryotic microalgae in biotechnology

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Abstract

Besides being considered pathogens, viruses are important drivers of evolution and they can shape large ecological and biogeochemical processes, by influencing host fitness, population dynamics, and community structures. Moreover, they are simple systems that can be used and manipulated to be beneficial and useful for biotechnological applications. In this context, microalgae biotechnology is a growing field of research, which investigated the usage of photosynthetic microorganisms for the sustainable production of food, fuel, chemical, and pharmaceutical sectors. Viruses infecting microalgae have become important subject of ecological studies related to marine and aquatic environments only four decades ago when virus-like-particles associated with bloom-forming algae were discovered. These first findings have opened new questions on evolution and identity. To date, 63 viruses that infect eukaryotic microalgae have been isolated and cultured. In this short review we briefly summarize what is known about viruses infecting eukaryotic microalgae, and how acknowledging their importance can shape future research focussed not only on marine ecology and evolutionary biology but also on biotechnological applications related to microalgae cell factories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107790
JournalBiotechnology Advances
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2021

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