Sustainable development of microalgal biotechnology in coastal zone for aquaculture and food

Xiangning Lu, Yulin Cui, Yuting Chen, Yupeng Xiao, Xiaojin Song, Fengzheng Gao, Yun Xiang, Congcong Hou, Jun Wang, Qinhua Gan, Xing Zheng, Yandu Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Region-specific Research and Development (R&D) of microalga-derived product systems are crucial if “biotech's green gold” is to be explored in a rational and economically viable way. Coastal zones, particularly the locations around the equator, are typically considered to be optimum cultivation sites due to stable annual temperature, light, and ready availability of seawater. However, a ‘cradle-to-grave’ assessment of the development of microalgal biotechnology in these areas, not only under the laboratory conditions, but also in the fields has not yet been demonstrated. In this study, to evaluate the viability of microalga-derived multi-product technology, we showed the development of microalgal biotechnology in coastal zones for aquaculture and food. By creating and screening a (sub)tropical microalgal collection, a Chlorella strain MEM25 with a robust growth in a wide range of salinities, temperatures, and light intensities was identified. Evaluation of the economic viability and performance of different scale cultivation system designs (500 L and 5000 L closed photobioreactors and 60,000 L open race ponds, ORPs) at coastal zones under geographically specific conditions showed the stable and robust characteristics of MEM25 across different production system designs and various spatial and temporal scales. It produces high amounts of proteins and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in various conditions. Feeding experiments reveal the nutritional merits of MEM25 as food additives where PUFAs and essential amino acids are enriched and the algal diet improves consumers' growth. Economic evaluation highlights an appreciable profitability of MEM25 production as human or animal food using ORP systems. Therefore, despite the pros and cons, sound opportunities exist for the development of market-ready multiple-product systems by employing region-specific R&D strategies for microalgal biotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146369
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Aquaculture
  • Chlorella
  • Coastal zone
  • Functional food
  • Industrial cultivation
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Microalgal feedstocks

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