Commercial production of microalgal biomass for food and feed is a recent worldwide trend. Although it is common to publish nutritional data for microalgae grown at the lab-scale, data about industrial strains cultivated in an industrial setting are scarce in the literature. Thus, here we present the nutritional composition and a microbiological and toxicological evaluation of Tetraselmis sp. CTP4 biomass, cultivated in 100-m3 photobioreactors at an industrial production facility (AlgaFarm). This microalga contained high amounts of protein (31.2 g/100 g), dietary fibres (24.6 g/100 g), digestible carbohydrates (18.1 g/100 g) and ashes (15.2 g/100 g), but low lipid content (7.04 g/100 g). The biomass displayed a balanced amount of essential amino acids, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and starch-like polysaccharides. Significant levels of chlorophyll (3.5 g/100 g), carotenoids (0.61 g/100 g), and vitamins (e.g., 79.2 mg ascorbic acid /100 g) were also found in the biomass. Conversely, pathogenic bacteria, heavy metals, cyanotoxins, mycotoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and pesticides were absent. The biomass showed moderate antioxidant activity in several in vitro assays. Taken together, as the biomass produced has a balanced biochemical composition of macronutrients and (pro-)vitamins, lacking any toxic contaminants, these results suggest that this strain can be used for nutritional applications.
Keywords: Tetraselmis sp. CTP4; antioxidants; biochemical composition; microalgae; pigments; toxicological evaluation; vitamins.