Microalgae are single-celled creatures that appear at the base of marine and freshwater, in its columns, and in various coral formations. Microalgae are not found alone, so the colonies they form, whether they are single-celled or not, are visible to the naked eye. Although there are thousands of different species of microalgae, the most common are diatoms (Bacillariophyceae), green algae (Chlorophyceae) and Golden Yesil algae (Chrysophyceae).
One of the most important features of microalgae is that they can photosynthesize. So much so that microalgae produce about half of atmospheric oxygen. In this way, they also synthesize organic materials (carbohydrates, proteins, fats). This turns microalgae into a rich source of food, because microalgae contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that cannot be synthesized in the human body. It is also a good source of vitamins such as microalgae a, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, and folic acid (B9).
Can microalgae be used to replace fish in the human diet?
Microalgae can be used in the food industry alongside the bioenergy industry, according to the study, conducted by researchers at Martin Luther University (MLU) in Halle-Wittenberg and whose results were published in the Journal of Applied Psychology on July 7, 2020.
Microalgae are mainly produced in open small ponds in Asia. However, the risk of transmission of harmful substances in these small ponds is also high. Some microalgae species are more suitable for cultivation in closed systems called photobioreactors. The researchers are trying to find out which type of microalgae can be produced in these closed systems. In this way microalgae can be produced even in Germany and a different source of omega-3 can be added to the human diet.
Producing microalgae is both easier and more environmentally friendly than producing some species of fish. On the study, Dr. Dr from the Innovation Office at Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg Toni Meler says:
First, what we did was compare the carbon footprints of nutrients in microalgae and fish. We also compared how acidification and eutrification in the water supply (increased nitrogen and phosphate in the water) changed between the two food sources.
Susann Schade of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in agricultural and Nutritional Sciences says::
However, when we look at the effects of omega-3 on the environment, we find that fish production is worse than microalgae production. Of course, the microlgs we produce can’t be eaten by fish in all their meanings. But if we do, we get an excellent source of eco-friendly omega-3.
Since microalgae are biologically active and sustainable, they are frequently used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, particularly in energy. Thanks to the new studies, it is aimed to add the food industry among these industries.