Pilot scale production of Crocosphaera chwakensis CCY0110 and evaluation of its biomass nutritional potential

Algal Research

Jorge Matinha-Cardoso, Tamára Santos, Hugo Pereira, João Varela, Paula Tamagnini, Rita Mota

In recent years, the large-scale cultivation and commercialization of microalgae/cyanobacteria biomasses have become a worldwide trend, mainly directed to the animal and human nutrition markets due to their outstanding nutritional value. However, only a very limited number are currently classified as food ingredients by Food Safety regulators worldwide. Crocosphaera chwakensis CCY0110 is a marine unicellular cyanobacterium that produces a promising and versatile extracellular carbohydrate polymer (Cyanoflan). Therefore, envisaging a biorefinery approach with a multi-product stream (zero-waste), C. chwakensis biomass was for the first time cultivated at pilot-scale in a 120 L flat panel photobioreactor and its nutritional composition was evaluated. The results obtained revealed high protein and fat-soluble vitamins content (∼54 g of protein, 6 mg vitamin A and 25 mg vitamin E per 100 g biomass dry weight), coupled with a balanced amount of essential amino acids and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (36 % of total fatty acids). Moreover, C. chwakensis biomass can also be considered as a great source of important minerals, such as potassium (3 g per 100 g DW), magnesium (0.5 g per 100 g DW) and iron (95 mg per 100 g DW), as well as phycocyanin, a high-value blue pigment with a wide array of applications. Overall, C. chwakensis biomass displays a nutritional composition that outdo traditional feedstocks and competes with already established and commercially available cyanobacteria and microalgae. This work highlights the potential of C. chwakensis as a multi-product cyanobacterium for blue bioeconomy, combining the production of a promising biopolymer with biomass valorization.

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