Algae, Microalgae & Seaweed

Microalgae: Chlorella Growth Factor and Galdieria Sulphuraria Promise High Quality Proteins for a Hungry World

Today, we bring two microalgae innovations unlocking an alternative protein source with remarkable nutritional and sustainability benefits for the growing population.

Microalgae used for protein production have a higher yield than crops such as soybeans and wheat, and use less water and land. They are considered an ideal source for producing nutritious and digestible food in the future when climate change and resource scarcity may compromise animal protein production.

However, consumer acceptance of microalgae-based food remains to be determined, as these products are seen as less tasty but healthier than animal-based products. A recent report by Allied Market Research, projects the global algae protein market will be worth $709 million by 2028.

chlorella under microscope
Chlorella under microscope © sinhyu-stock.adobe.com

Chlorella sorokiniana – IICT, India

Researchers at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) have identified a promising alternative protein for food and feed in the cells of Chlorella sorokiniana: Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF).

The IICT research team found CGF a treasure trove of beneficial components, including peptides, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, providing superior protein quality. Even compared to plant protein sources like soy, CGF stands out.

The scientists successfully isolated and cultivated Chlorella sorokiniana using a specially formulated nutrient mix, maximizing biomass and protein content. Notably, according to the authors, the extraction process for CGF utilizes a non-chemical autolysis method, preserving the integrity of valuable amino acids and other nutrients.

Metrics like Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER), Essential Amino Acid Index (EAAI), and Biological Value (BV) all point toward the exceptional quality of protein found in CGF.

The research by the IICT team not only underscores the potential of CGF as a valuable dietary supplement but also emphasizes the importance of developing sustainable microalgae cultivation methods. The study has been published in the Algal Research journal.

Cultivation of red micralgae at AlgaeHUB
© Lgem

Galdieria sulphuraria – AlgaeHUB, The Netherlands

The Netherlands’ AlgaeHUB by Lgem is exploring the potential of the red microalgae Galdieria sulphuraria and its applications in various industries, including as a sustainable protein source for the food industry.

This red microalga is ideal for research in stress tolerance and adaptation due to its extremophile nature (its capability to live in extreme environments). AlgaeHUB cultivates Galdieria sulphuraria with photobioreactors that can recreate the microalgae’s optimal environment, utilizing organic waste materials as a carbon source — an ideal sustainable resource.

Rich in protein and natural pigments, it can be a sustainable alternative to animal proteins and color additives in food. Additionally, due to its high protein content, antioxidant properties, and anti-inflammatory benefits, it is valuable for pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and cosmetics. Additionally, it offers environmental benefits as it can be used for bioremediation and wastewater treatment due to its tolerance for heavy metals and harsh conditions.

“Cultivation of Galdieria sulphuraria presents unique advantages. It thrives in extreme conditions, growing optimally at 40-50°C and a pH of 1.5. These conditions can be recreated in our photobioreactors. Additionally, its natural resistance to pathogens allows for cultivation in less sterile environments, reducing the need for stringent controls,” AlgaeHUB states.

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