In the last decades, an increasing attention has been directed toward the possibilities of growing algae commercially. This interest has been partially due to the fact that some strains of microalgae and cyanobacteria have demonstrated the ability to produce a variety of bioactive products. Both, primary and secondary metabolism of these microorganisms has been demonstrated to play a key role in the production of special chemicals. Antioxidants, for instance, can be produced by some algal strains to protect photosynthetic cells from oxidative stress. Microalgae can produce a variety of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids with clear health benefits for human nutrition. Potential products obtained from cyanobacteria and microalgae exhibiting interesting medical properties include polysaccharides, glycerol, glycoproteins, and antibiotics. From the aforementioned products, especially relevant has become the search of new antibiotics. The potential spread of bacterial resistance and the foreseen decrease on efficiency on antibiotics, has largely stimulated the research on novel antibiotics sources. Among these sources, cyanobacteria and microalgae have demonstrated a vast and just barely explored potential.
Part of the book: Microalgal Biotechnology