Extraction and purification of high-value metabolites from microalgae: essential lipids, astaxanthin and phycobiliproteins

Microb Biotechnol. 2015 Mar;8(2):190-209. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12167. Epub 2014 Sep 15.


The marked trend and consumers growing interest in natural and healthy products have forced researches and industry to develop novel products with functional ingredients. Microalgae have been recognized as source of functional ingredients with positive health effects since these microorganisms produce polyunsaturated fatty acids, polysaccharides, natural pigments, essential minerals, vitamins, enzymes and bioactive peptides. For this reason, the manuscript reviews two of the main high-value metabolites which can be obtained from microalgae: pigments and essential lipids. Therefore, the extraction and purification methods for polyunsaturated fatty acids, astaxanthin, phycoerythrin and phycocyanin are described. Also, the effect that environmental growth conditions have in the production of these metabolites is described. This review summarizes the existing methods to extract and purify such metabolites in order to develop a feasible and sustainable algae industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Factors / isolation & purification*
  • Biological Factors / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / isolation & purification*
  • Microalgae / growth & development*
  • Microalgae / metabolism*
  • Phycobiliproteins / isolation & purification*
  • Phycobiliproteins / metabolism
  • Pigments, Biological / isolation & purification
  • Pigments, Biological / metabolism
  • Xanthophylls / isolation & purification
  • Xanthophylls / metabolism


  • Biological Factors
  • Lipids
  • Phycobiliproteins
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine