The recently commenced project, Algae for a Healthy World, aims at producing bio-compounds with food applications from microalgae and developing biotechnological tools for improving production of aquatic biomass.
What Is Microalgae?
Microalgae are minute and the world's first known photosynthetic plants that convert solar energy into proteins and sugars. These plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and process it to release oxygen. The aquatic variety of microalgae, also known as phytoplankton, is known to be responsible for producing half of the world's oxygen.
Microalgae are believed to need very little input in order to be alive. They don't need much water or a fertile land to grow and survive and are 20 times more fruitful than usual crops.
The Project: Algae For A Healthy World
Algae for a Healthy World (A4HW) is a group project formed with an aim to manufacture bio-compounds with food application from microalgae. The group involves seven entities namely the Centre for Biological Research (CSIC-CIB), Novatec, AINIA, Mar Cristal Marilum, Endesa, Neoalgae Micro Seaweed Products and the University of Cádiz. All the seven bodies are from varied backgrounds and are leaders in their specific fields of research.
The seven partners assembled and officially declared the beginning of the project, with the main intention of developing the required biotechnological tools that would help in improving and optimizing the production of biomass of marine origin.
"[The inaugural meeting was about highlighting the goals of the project as] to generate new products and to increase the profitability of microalgae cultivation technology on an industrial scale, and to establish Spain as a leader in the production of these bioproducts" as mentioned in Algae World News.
Algae For A Healthy World Promises Food High On Nutrition
Algae have gained much popularity as health food supplements due to their high protein content. Microalgae are also promoted as a befitting substitute to fish oil, as fish, in reality, receive their healthy omegas by eating plankton.
Co-director of the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation, Milton Sommerfeld, pointed out that a few years back, it was possible to add microalgae, which is also a good source of DHA, into the baby milk formula. Microalgae is added in milk formula since DHA, the vital ingredient for brain growth and which is present in the mother's breast milk is absent in cattle milk.
Algae is also being examined as a livestock feed for cattle, pigs, chicken and fish. According to Sommerfeld, experiments have been made by feeding chicken with a high-protein algae diet. It was found that the quality and growth of both the chicken and their eggs improved.