Microalgal nanocellulose - opportunities for a circular bioeconomy

Trends Plant Sci. 2021 Sep;26(9):924-939. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2021.05.004. Epub 2021 Jun 15.


Over 3 billion years, photosynthetic algae have evolved complex uses for cellulose, the most abundant polymer worldwide. A major cell-wall component of lignocellulosic plants, seaweeds, microalgae, and bacteria, cellulose can be processed to nanocellulose, a promising nanomaterial with novel properties. The structural diversity of macro- and microalgal nanocelluloses opens opportunities to couple low-impact biomass production with novel, green-chemistry processing to yield valuable, sustainable nanomaterials for a multitude of applications ranging from novel wound dressings to organic solar cells. We review the origins of algal cellulose and the applications and uses of nanocellulose, and highlight the potential for microalgae as a nanocellulose source. Given the limited state of current knowledge, we identify research challenges and strategies to help to realise this potential.

Keywords: cell wall; industrial biotechnology; microalgae; nanocellulose.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomass
  • Cellulose
  • Microalgae*
  • Photosynthesis


  • Cellulose