Author(s): WanLoy Chu
Microalgae are important biological resources that have a wide range of biotechnological applications. Due to their high nutritional value, microalgae such as Spirulina and Chlorella are being mass cultured for health food. A variety of high-value products including polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), pigments such as carotenoids and phycobiliproteins, and bioactive compounds are useful as nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, as well as for industrial applications. In terms of environmental biotechnology, microalgae are useful for bioremediation of agro-industrial wastewater, and as a biological tool for assessment and monitoring of environmental toxicants such as heavy metals, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. In recent years, microalgae have attracted much interest due to their potential use as feedstock for biodiesel production. In Malaysia, there has been active research on microalgal biotechnology for the past 30 years, tapping into the potential of our rich microalgal resources for high-value products and applications in wastewater treatment and assessment of environmental toxicants. A culture collection of microalgae has been established, and this serves as an important resource for microalgal biotechnology research. Microalgal biotechnology should continue to be regarded as a priority area of research in this country.