The effect of the algal microbiome on industrial production of microalgae.

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PubMed ID: 29978601

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Lian J, Wijffels RH, Smidt H, Sipkema D

Microb Biotechnol. Jul 2018. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.13296

COMMENT: Coexisting microorganisms, and predominantly bacteria, are often regarded as contaminants in algal production and research, but recent studies manifested that many algal symbionts not only promote algal growth but also offer advantages in downstream processing. Indeed, the algal microbiome is a pivotal part of the alga holobiont and has a key role in modulating algal populations in nature. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the role of bacteria in artificial systems ranging from laboratory flasks to industrial ponds.

In this review, the authors highlight  the latest studies of algae-microbial interactions and their underlying mechanisms, discuss advantages of large-scale algal-bacterial cocultivation and extend such knowledge to a broad range of biotechnological applications.

Because of the high expectations for microalgae in a bio-based economy, better understanding of benefits and risks of algal-microbial associations is important for the algae industry. Reducing production cost may be through applying specific bacteria to enhance algae growth at large scale as well as through preventing the growth of a broad spectrum of algal pathogens.


However, as the authors conclude, 

currently our knowledge on algae–bacteria interactions is too scattered to identify generalities with respect to bacterial species that are suitable for co-culture with microalgae.

The main challenges for the application of bacteria in algal cultivation are to steer the bacterial community to its desired composition and how to maintain this balance during different modes of operation, different reactor types and fluctuations in outdoor conditions.

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Javier Velasco