Project title: "Isolation of microalgae native of the Ionian Sea and their use in the production of high added value products"

Project duration: 2019 – 2022

Total Budget: € 199.908,12

Budget UPatras: € 179.948,12

Foundation: Operational Programme Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation 2014-2020 (EPAnEK)

Short project description

Microalgae are used in many biotechnological applications and simultaneously are an irreplaceable biological material of basic research. Many species are characterized as oleaginous, as they are able to accumulate storage lipids at significant percentages. These lipids are often rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5,n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6,n-3) which are used as additives in human nutrition but also in fish farming as ingredients of fish feed.

Despite the great interest of microalgae worldwide, our knowledge of the native strains of Greek seas is limited. However, the enlargement of this knowledge will open the horizons for the development of new applications of marine microalgae in Greece, both in the aquaculture industry and in the national production of microalgal products of high added value through technologies compatible with green development. The aim of this research project is to isolate new microalgal strains of Greek seas, especially the Ionian Sea, and to identify them with molecular techniques. Newly-isolated strains will be the beginning of a collection that will be available to researchers and private companies for research and commercial exploitation. The strains will be cultivated under laboratory conditions and will be characterized on a biochemical level. Some of them (selected on the basis of their ability to grow without difficulties) will be cultivated in laboratory bioreactors and studied for their ability to accumulate significant amounts of lipids rich in PUFAs, or less saturated lipids suitable for biodiesel production, polysaccharides, dyes, antioxidants and/or proteins. Finally, a limited number of strains will be selected for adaptive evolution studies in order to optimize the accumulation of storage material, especially lipids, under conditions favourable for accumulation, followed by conditions encouraging the dominance of strains containing energy reserves at high rates. The kinetics and physiology of the new strains grown in laboratory bioreactors will be studied in-depth and compared with those of wild-type strains. 

Project aims

(a) Establishment of a collection of microalgae endemics of the Ionian Sea. The strains will be characterized and be available to the scientific community for research purposes and to individual companies for commercial exploitation.

(b) Elucidation of prospects for commercial exploitation. Some strains will be cultivated in laboratory photo-bioreactors and will be thoroughly studied for their ability to produce high added value products such as PUFAs, pigments, etc.