Cell disruption and astaxanthin extraction from Haematococcus pluvialis: Recent advances

Bioresour Technol. 2022 Jan;343:126124. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2021.126124. Epub 2021 Oct 12.


The green microalga Haematococcus pluvialis is an excellent source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant widely used in cosmetics, aquaculture, health foods, and pharmaceuticals. This review explores recent developments in cell disruption and astaxanthin extraction techniques applied using H. pluvialis as a model species for large-scale algal biorefinery. Notably, this alga develops a unique cyst-like cell with a rigid three-layered cell wall during astaxanthin accumulation (∼4% of dry weight) under stress. The thick (∼2 µm), acetolysis-resistant cell wall forms the strongest barrier to astaxanthin extraction. Various physical, chemical, and biological cell disruption methods were discussed and compared based on theoretical mechanisms, biomass status (wet, dry, and live), cell-disruption efficacy, astaxanthin extractability, cost, scalability, synergistic combinations, and impact on the stress-sensitive astaxanthin content. The challenges and future prospects of the downstream processes for the sustainable and economic development of advanced H. pluvialis biorefineries are also outlined.

Keywords: Algal biorefinery; Astaxanthin; Cell disruption; Extraction; Haematococcus pluvialis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants
  • Biomass
  • Chlorophyceae*
  • Xanthophylls


  • Antioxidants
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine