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Fucoxanthin: A promising bioproduct to be derived from algae?

Timmermans, B M (2017) Fucoxanthin: A promising bioproduct to be derived from algae? Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Abstract: The carotenoid fucoxanthin has been the subject of research for several decades. The light-harvesting pigment is found in the fucoxanthin-chlorophyll light harvesting complexes of the photosystems of brown algae. Where research originally focused on the mechanistic aspects of the pigment, nowadays a lot of attention is on its possible health promoting benefits. This thesis looks at several aspects of fucoxanthin to determine whether or not the pigment could be a suitable candidate as a bioproduct derived from algae. For micro-algae, the three species Odontella aurita, Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Isochrysis gff galbana were identified as the prime candidates for fucoxanthin production. Different lighting and nutrient schemes could be developed to increase production even further, while several down-stream processing extraction techniques could provide a simultaneous production of fucoxanthin and other desired products such as lipids in one batch. For macro-algae, the Laminariceae, Sargassaceae and Alariaceae are considered to be the best choices. The Sargassaceae for their relatively high content and the Laminariaceae and Alariaceae as these are currently already being consumed in high quantities, thereby having an advantage of existing infrastructure. Fucoxanthin content can mostly be influenced by time of harvest. The possibility of using normally discarded “waste” fractions in combination with the CO2 supercritical fluid extraction technique would reduce environmental pressures of fucoxanthin production considerably in comparison to other methods. The pigment was found to be a safe product that has a rather low bioavailability in humans. The addition of ingesting lipids together with fucoxanthin can increase the bioavailability. Fucoxanthin has potential health benefits as an agent in the categories of anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity as shown in medical research. However, the lack of human trials and conflicting results in the few that are done, do not yet show its efficacy in the form of a supplement. This gives little hope that the pigment would be legally legitimized as a so-called functional food by the food health and safety authorities as of right now. A small market does already exist, using dubious health claims at best. Most of these powders are still derived from seaweeds. These uncertainties lead to the conclusion that for now, investing in the development of micro-algae for the production of fucoxanthin would not be worthwhile. Instead, using the usually discarded, “undesirable”, fractions of macro-algae that are harvested already should be able to produce enough fucoxanthin until more evidence of its health-promoting effects in living humans is found.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:26
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:26

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