Microalgae are a natural source of valuable compounds like lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates; among these biomolecules, they produce antioxidants pigments as carotenes that have application in human health. Allied to these potentialities, microalgae can be grown in areas that do not compete with food production and incorporate CO2 into biomass, acting as atmospheric CO2 mitigators. Thus, there is great industrial interest in the production of microalgae biomass. However, the large scale/commercial production of microalgae are still subject to high costs and poorly developed cultivation processes. Given the physiological plasticity of microalgae, one can make use of manipulation of the environmental conditions as strategy that increase biomolecule yield, which can in turn alleviate the production costs. Micronutrients are particularly interesting as such strategy because trace amounts can cause great changes in biomolecules but not in growth rates, different from macronutrients such as N and P that increase biomolecules in detriment of biomass. Moreover, literature has shown that stress combination can trigger biomolecules accumulation in microlagae. In this research we combine a chemical, e.g. copper at environmentally relevant concentrations, and a physical, e.g. blue and red LEDs as a strategy to impact on the biochemical composition (carbohydrates, proteins, carotenes and chlorophyll a) and biomolecules yield in Kirchneriella contorta, a freshwater Chlorophyta. The microalgae growth (population density and growth rate), and photosynthesis (PhytoPAM) will be investigated to infer about the physiological status of the organism. This is a study is a contribution to the development of microalgae biotechnology and the understanding of their physiology in environmental concentrations of copper and different light colours.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: