Microalgae proteins: production, separation, isolation, quantification, and application in food and feed

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 May 28;1-27. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1768046. Online ahead of print.


Many countries have been experienced an increase in protein consumption due to the population growth and adoption of protein-rich dietaries. Unfortunately, conventional-based protein agroindustry is associated with environmental impacts that might aggravate as the humankind increase. Thus, it is important to screen for novel protein sources that are environmentally friendly. Microalgae farming is a promising alternative to couple the anthropic emissions with the production of food and feed. Some microalgae show protein contents two times higher than conventional protein sources. The use of whole microalgae biomass as a protein source in food and feed is simple and well-established. Conversely, the production of microalgae protein supplements and isolates requires the development of feasible and robust processes able to fractionate the microalgae biomass in different value-added products. Since most of the proteins are inside the microalgae cells, several techniques of disruption have been proposed to increase the efficiency to extract them. After the disruption of the microalgae cells, the proteins can be extracted, concentrated, isolated or purified allowing the development of different products. This critical review addresses the current state of the production of microalgae proteins for multifarious applications, and possibilities to concatenate the production of proteins and advanced biofuels.

Keywords: Arthrospira; Chlorella; biorefinery; commercial production; downstream; microalgae farming.