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ISSN: 2157-7439
Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology

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Microalgae as Nanofactory for Production of Antimicrobial Molecules

Luis G Ramirez-Merida1,2, Leila Queiroz Zepka2, Cristiano Ragagnin de Menezes2 and Eduardo Jacob-Lopes2*

1Applied Biotechnology Center, Department of Biology, University of Carabobo, Venezuela

2Food Science and Technology Department, Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil

*Corresponding Author:
Eduardo Jacob-Lopes
Food Science and Technology Department
Federal University of Santa Maria, UFSM
Roraima Avenue 1000, 97105-900, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil
Tel: +55 55 32208822
E-Mail: [email protected]

Received Date: September 04, 2015 Accepted Date: September 25, 2015 Published Date: October 07, 2015

Citation: Ramirez-Merida LG, Zepka LQ, de Menezes CR, Jacob-Lopes E (2015) Microalgae as Nanofactory for Production of Antimicrobial Molecules. J Nanomed Nanotechnol S6:004. doi:10.4172/2157-7439.S6-004

Copyright: © 2015 Ramirez-Merida LG, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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In recent decades, due to increasing bacterial resistance, have been developed researches to find molecules with antimicrobial activity. The searches for new compounds, especially unexplored sources such as microalgae are a potential alternative. Microalgae are microorganisms extremely diverse and ubiquitous; they have advantages to become a powerful nanofactory due to the variety of metabolic compounds as the ability to form metallic nanoparticles with antimicrobial effect. This mini-review shows the importance of integrating nanotechnology with microalgae and/ or their products for the preservation and formation of molecules to be applied in prophylactic therapy and infectious.


Nanofactory; Prophylactic therapy; Ubiquitous; Antimicrobial effect


Microbial contamination has caused countless deaths and large public health problems in the world population. The presence of microbial pathogens in foods [1], intensive care unit [2], prosthesis infection [3], among others, has led to the development of methods for the control and prevention of microbial infections. The extensive use of antibiotics has facilitated the continued emergence and spread of resistant organisms, causing global alarm due to the public health threat they represent. Added to this, biofilms formation on biotic and abiotic structures that are difficult to eliminate which causes greater resistance to the removal, generating chronic problems of reinfection [4].

Looking for solutions, some possible strategies have been based on the rotation control of certain antibiotics like employing compounds or complements derived from plants extract, the primary or secondary cell metabolites, that submit multiple mechanisms of action in medical and industrial applications [5,6]. However, the chemical interaction of these biocontrol agents with organic or inorganic elements produces decreased of antimicrobial action.

In this regard, nanotechnology offers a wide range of possibilities as to development of new materials with antimicrobial properties that may affect medical and industrial areas. Despite this, physical and chemical methods for making these nanomaterials cause problems of toxicity limiting their applications in clinical fields. Therefore, for integration of nanotechnology at health systems, it is necessary to use biological routes from microorganisms and plants for the synthesis of nanomaterials [7].

Microalgae offer certain advantages to become a powerful nanofactory. In recent years, the use of microalgae has focused on biofuel production and carbon dioxide fixation [8,9]. However, the diversity of microalgae metabolic compounds has caught the attention due to nutraceutical and pharmacological contribution. Although the antimicrobial activity of microalgae and/or bioproducts have been poorly investigated, there are a great diversity of species and metabolic compounds that recently received important consideration as a new source of novel bactericidal and fungicidal activity (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Chemical structure of microalgae metabolic compounds with antimicrobial activity. *MRSA: multidrug-resistant S. aureus.

Microalgae cells can be used for the synthesis of various inorganic nanoparticles, ranging in size from 1-10 nm [10-17]. The microalgae have certain advantages as nanofactories due to fast growth, formation of metabolic compounds and proteins that reduce silver, gold ions and other metals that helps stabilize metallic nanoparticles [18]. Many species of microalgae have the ability to adsorb and entrap heavy metal ions by binding to carboxyl groups of cell biomass [18], meanwhile, polyphosphates and polysaccharides groups, intra- and extracellular, participate in chelation and oxidation of metals [19].

Microalgae can perform extracellular synthesis of metal nanoparticles, besides of eliminate some steps in the process of biorefinery, which it brings greater importance for biomedical and biotechnological applications.

The antimicrobial activity of metal nanoparticles has been demonstrated [20]. The silver nanoparticle acts as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. They produce rapid killing kinetics, even on multidrugresistant pathogens [21]. The mechanism of action is much debated, but is believed that DNA loses its ability to replicate and membrane proteins are inactivated by interaction of Ag+ ions [22]. The union of Ag+ ions causes denaturation of cellular proteins besides the respiratory chain is disengaged causing cellular collapse [23]. Moreover, the metals in the presence of oxygen can induce the generation of reactive oxygen species generating oxidative stress [24].

Many of nanoparticles and bioproducts synthesized by microalgae can be coupled into nanofibers and nanotubes. Thus, this new nanomaterial would enhance the antimicrobial action. These nanofibers can be marketed as prophylactic treatment by incorporation into wound healing bandages, surgical equipment, prosthesis, food packaging, among others.

Therefore, the integration of biotechnological processes that solve medical problems in society would make a breakthrough for biomedical market.

The productive development of microalgae cultivation with suitable photobioreactors [25], could generate high yields in production of metal nanoparticles and/or biomass bioproducts that can be integrated into nanofibers or nanotubes with antimicrobial activity, helping to prevent reinfection by microorganisms, it would be an ideal process.

Microalgae can achieve a promising future as antimicrobials with exploring potential areas for bioprospecting. This coupled with the physiological advantages; it allows incorporation into nanotechnology helping to have antimicrobial molecules capable of solving problems of contamination and infection not solved by common antibiotics.


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