Potential of the Red Alga Dixoniella grisea for the Production of Additives for Lubricants

Plants (Basel). 2021 Sep 4;10(9):1836. doi: 10.3390/plants10091836.


There is an increasing interest in algae-based raw materials for medical, cosmetic or nutraceutical applications. Additionally, the high diversity of physicochemical properties of the different algal metabolites proposes these substances from microalgae as possible additives in the chemical industry. Among the wide range of natural products from red microalgae, research has mainly focused on extracellular polymers for additive use, while this study also considers the cellular components. The aim of the present study is to analytically characterize the extra- and intracellular molecular composition from the red microalga Dixoniella grisea and to evaluate its potential for being used in the tribological industry. D. grisea samples, fractionated into extracellular polymers (EPS), cells and medium, were examined for their molecular composition. This alga produces a highly viscous polymer, mainly composed of polysaccharides and proteins, being secreted into the culture medium. The EPS and biomass significantly differed in their molecular composition, indicating that they might be used for different bio-additive products. We also show that polysaccharides and proteins were the major chemical compounds in EPS, whereas the content of lipids depended on the separation protocol and the resulting product. Still, they did not represent a major group and were thus classified as a potential valuable side-product. Lyophilized algal fractions obtained from D. grisea were found to be not toxic when EPS were not included. Upon implementation of EPS as a commercial product, further assessment on the environmental toxicity to enchytraeids and other soil organisms is required. Our results provide a possible direction for developing a process to gain an environmentally friendly bio-additive for application in the tribological industry based on a biorefinery approach.

Keywords: Dixoniella grisea; bio-additive; culture conditions; ecotoxicological effect; extracellular polymeric substances; fatty acids; polysaccharides; proteins; red algae.