WP7 - Microalgae for blue biotechnological applications


The final goal will be to obtain new natural compounds from microalgae to improve human health and wellness.

Task 7.1: Analysis of 30 culture strains selected from across microalgal diversity using metabolic profiling, bioassays and chemical characterization to identify molecules with promising characteristics for industrial exploitation (antioxidants, drugs, cosmetics). As a result, a database of relevant compounds across microalgal lineages will be created.

Task 7.2: Demonstration of the feasibility of producing microalgal lines over-expressing molecules of interest and engineered strains to minimize production of compounds that decrease yield.

Transgenic lines with traits of interest will be produced and made available to the blue biotech industry. Moreover, results on selective breeding to improve strain properties will be reported to the community.

Main Activities: 


Main Activities involved in the work package 7:

Task 7.1:

  • Induction of specific products in the 30 selected culture strains grown under optimal growth conditions and under specific stimuli (e.g., light, temperature or nutrient stress)
  • Extraction and analysis (quantitative and/or qualitative) of  metabolites.
  • Analysis of the extracts by means of a range of cellular bioassays including standard bioactivity tests (anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activities) and specific drug-related screens for effects on selected cell processes.
  • Analysis of genomic/transcriptomic data from the strains producing compounds of particular interest in order to attempt to identify the gene(s) involved, providing a direct link to Task 7.2

Task 7.2:

  • Pilot study on microalgal model species (the chlorophyte Ostreococcus tauri, the diatoms Phaeodactylum tricornutum, Seminavis robusta and Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata, and the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi) to demonstrate the feasibility of strain improvement (over-expression of molecules of interest and down-regulation of compounds that decrease yield).
  • Screening of the available mutant collections of O. tauri and P. tricornutum to select strains with interesting phenotypes.
  • Analysis of the selected mutant strains for the identification of natural products of interest (as for Task 7.1).
  • Study of the life cycles of the model species E. huxleyi, O. tauri and P. tricornutum to control their reproduction and ultimately improve strain properties by selective breeding.


Work Package Leader: 
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn
Other Partners Involved: 
Université Pierre et Marie Curie
Universiteit Gent
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH
Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis
Natural Environment Research Council
Scottish Association for Marine Science