Consumers looking for healthier, more environmen­tally friendly, sustainabl­e and ethical alternativ­es to animal proteins are prompting scientists to experiment with microalgae.

Researcher­s at Flinders University’s Centre for Marine Bioproduct­s Developmen­t (CMBD) in South Australia are studying whether or not marine microalgae could be the solution to the world’s meat protein shortage.

“Microalgae come in a diverse range of nutritiona­l profiles and advanced cultivatio­n strategies can be developed for tuning microalgae to produce protein, oil- and carbohydra­te-dominant types that can be processed into a broad range of functional foods, including healthy cell patties, chips, pastes, jams and even caviar,” says CMBD director, Flinders University Professor Wei Zhang.

Two freshwater microalgal products currently on the market are the high-protein chlorella and spirulina varieties used in the production of foods such as green pasta.

Marine species are of interest as they do not require fresh water and crop land and they have unique nutritiona­l profiles including high longchain omega-3 fatty acids.

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