Biological constraints in algal biotechnology

Giuseppe Torzillo, Benjamin Pushparaj, Jiri Masojidek, Avigad Vonshak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


In the past decade, considerable progress has been made in developing the appropriate biotechnology for microalgal mass cultivation aimed at establishing a new agro-industry. This review points out the main biological constraints affecting algal biotechnology outdoors and the requirements for making this biotechnology economically viable. One of them is the availability of a wide variety of algal species and improved strains that favorably respond to varying environmental conditions existing outdoors. It is thus just a matter of time and effort before a new methodology like genetic engineering can and will be applied in this field as well. The study of stress physiology and adaptation of microalgae has also an important application in further development of the biotechnology for mass culturing of microalgae. In outdoor cultures, cells are exposed to severe changes in light and temperature much faster than the time scale required for the cells to acclimate. A better understanding of those parameters and the ability to rapidly monitor those conditions will provide the growers with a better knowledge on how to optimize growth and productivity. Induction of accumulation of high value products is associated with stress conditions. Understanding the physiological response may help in providing a better production system for the desired product and, at a later stage, give an insight of the potential for genetic modification of desired strains.The potential use of microalgae as part of a biological system for bioremediation/detoxification and wastewater treatment is also associated with growing the cells under stress conditions. Important developments in monitoring and feedback control of the culture behavior through application of online chlorophyll fluorescence technique are in progress. Understanding the process associated with those unique environmental conditions may help in choosing the right culture conditions as well as selecting strains in order to improve the efficiency of the biological process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-348
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003


  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Low temperature stress
  • Outdoor cultures
  • Oxygen stress
  • Photobioreactors
  • Photoinhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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