Cultivation of commercially important microalgae

The scientific note of Dr. Zahra Amini (the academic member of the Chabahar Offshore Fisheries Research Center) with the title of "The Importance of commercially important microalgae cultivation and industry"
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Microalgae are either prokaryotic or eukaryotic photosynthetic microorganisms, living in saline or freshwater environments. In recent years, microalgae have become widely used in human life. At present, microalgae are cultivated and harvested for a variety of purposes. Due to their high levels of protein, vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, fatty acids and antioxidant pigments such as beta - carotene, they are used directly as food for human consumption and as feed for livestock and aquatic animals. The compounds derived from this microorganism are used in various fields such as the preparation of cosmetic products, various beverages, agricultural fertilizers, etc. Microalgae have the ability to produce fats with the ability to be stored in the form of triglycerides which is why in some developed countries of the world their production is emphasized as an alternative to fossil fuels and a lot of investment is made in them. Large - scale microalgae cultivation certainly contributes to the development of a sustainable industry for biomass production as well as the production of high - value and cost-effective products. Genetic engineering techniques have been used to improve their potential as a future source of renewable biological products. The cultivation of microalgae depends on the species. Microalgae cultivation is affected by various factors such as the availability of nutrients (N, P, K, etc.), temperature, pH, salinity, carbon dioxide, oxygen and light intensity. Other important factors that determine the success of cultivation are: stirring and mixing, width and depth of bioreactor, harvesting frequency and dilution rate. Successful and economically viable microalgae cultivation should lead to the production of 30 grams per square meter per day of biomass.
Microalgae cultivation systems
Depending on the purpose of production and the species intended for cultivation, different cultivation systems are designed. On a large scale, microalgae can be cultivated in open ponds or closed photobioreactors. In open pond systems, the cultivation is relatively cheap and the possibility of contamination in these systems is high. While in closed photobioreactors, cultivation is less likely to be contaminated. The production of microalgae in open ponds is less efficient than the production of microalgae in closed photobioreactors and often the biomass concentration in ponds is less than one gram per liter. In industrial production, the most common method of cultivating microalgae is in open ponds, because open ponds are easier to build than closed photobioreactors and working with open ponds is much easier than closed photobioreactors.
Suitable areas for the cultivation of microalgae
Studies have been conducted to determine the suitable locations for microalgae cultivation. Spatial data of 57 suitable locations for the cultivation of microalgae with an area of about eighteen thousand square kilometers shows that it is possible to expand the microalgae industry in the coasts of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Data processed in GIS software show that suitable locations located in four coastal provinces including the Khuzestan province (five locations), province Bushehr province (twenty locations), the Hormozgan province (twenty - four locations), and the Sistan and Baluchestan province (twelve locations).
Microalgae with suitable potentials for cultivating on the coasts of the Sistan and Baluchestan province
In recent years, study projects aimed at identifying species with potential for aquaculture on the coasts of the Sistan and Baluchestan province have been carried out at the Chabahar Offshore Fisheries Research Center and various species have been introduced. Following this route, studies are currently being carried out in the phycolab of the Chabahar Offshore Fisheries Research Center on the cultivation of well - known species in the region, such as Dunaliella salina, which aims to determine the appropriate guidelines for mass cultivation of these valuable microalgae. At the same time, specialized experts in this research center have succeeded in identifying and cultivating new species of cyanobacteria from the coastal area of  the Chabahar Pink Lake located sixteen kilometers west of Chabahar that are able to produce suitable biomass. They are currently conducting additional studies to identify their biological properties. It seems that the coastal areas of the Oman Sea have the basic and necessary prerequisites for the establishment and development of the microalgae industry. Lack of extreme temperature differences in different seasons of the year, high number of sunny days, low average number of rainy days throughout the year, presence of commercial species of microalgae and also the existence of uncultivable coastal lands are suitable indicators for the expansion of the microalgae production industry in the region. Given the existing potential, we hope to see the establishment and expansion of microalgae production and processing industries in the region in the coming years.
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