Main content area

The potential of quantitative models to improve microalgae photosynthetic efficiency

Perin, Giorgio, Bellan, Alessandra, Bernardi, Andrea, Bezzo, Fabrizio, Morosinotto, Tomas
Physiologia plantarum 2019 v.166 no.1 pp. 380-391
biomass production, carbon dioxide, crops, energy, environmental factors, mathematical models, microalgae, microorganisms, mixing, niches, nutrients, photosynthesis
The massive increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere driven by human activities is causing huge negative consequences and new sustainable sources of energy, food and materials are highly needed. Algae are unicellular photosynthetic microorganisms that can provide a highly strategic contribution to this challenge as alternative source of biomass to complement crops cultivation. Algae industrial cultures are commonly limited by light availability, and biomass accumulation is strongly dependent on their photon‐to‐biomass conversion efficiency. Investigation of algae photosynthetic metabolism is thus strategic for the generation of more efficient strains with higher productivity. Algae are cultivated at industrial scale in conditions highly different from the natural niches they adapted to and strains development efforts must fully consider the seminal influence on productivity of regulatory mechanism of photosynthesis as well as of cultivation parameters like cells concentration, light distribution in the culture, mixing, nutrients and carbon dioxide availability. In this review we will focus in particular on how mathematical models can account for the complex influence of all environmental parameters and can be exploited for development of improved algae strains.