Microalgae Chrolella sorokiniana. (Photo: web.biosci.utexas.edu)
Selenium rich functional food produced with microalgae
Friday, May 11, 2012, 16:20 (GMT + 9)
A team of scientists from the University of Huelva (UH) found out that the microalgae Chrolella sorokiniana has the ability to produce new functional food that is rich in selenium for human consumption.
"These organisms are a good alternative as a source of functional substances and, in particular, of selenium compounds, which has proven therapeutic properties in preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases, immune system issues and neurological problems," explains the head the project, José Luis Gómez Ariza.
The new finding of the study involves the application of this chemical to microalgae.
"It's the first time that selenium in microalgae is studied," noted the researcher.
The microalgae were selected for its resistance, fast growth and the promptness with which this species accumulates selenium.
First, the experts found out that the microorganism assimilated the element. And after the application of different techniques, it was discovered that microalgae can generate selenium biomolecules.
Anyway, not all of these selenium molecules are suitable for human consumption, as for example, selenate is toxic.
The selenium-methionine is a form of selenium that is bioaccesible, which is suitable for the body to assimilate it in the digestion.
"We have been able to obtain selenium metabolic monitoring providing us with information to lead the algal metabolism towards the synthesis of the desired selenium biomolecules," explained Gómez Ariza.
The next step is to check that microalgae accumulate selenium without suffering major physiological disorders.
"Microalgae can be grown under different nutritional conditions in order to produce profiles of variable macromolecules, depending on the final destination of the biomass or on the properties intended to be achieved. If selenium is intended to be accumulated as selenium aminoacids, as selenium-methionine (a very bio-available form for animals), the composition of the culture medium can be modified accordingly," explains Gómez Ariza.
Researchers working on this project belong to Research, Environmental Analysis and Bioanalysis groups, Biotechnology and Biochemistry and the UH Photosynthetic Organisms.
By Analia Murias