Microalgae Section

Microalgae are unicellular organisms with enormous diversity, representing the effective bioindicator for monitoring ecosystem variations (e.g., climate change and environmental eutrophication issues). Also, microalgae are renown as renewable, sustainable and economical sources of bioactive medicinal compounds, food ingredients and biofuels, with great potentials in mitigation of elevated CO2 level and treatment of wastewater. These constitute the research hardcore within the Microalgae Section.

Microalgae are diversified unicellular organisms with great abundant in ecosystem, and normally represents the effective bioindicator for environmental monitoring purposes (e.g., climate change and environmental eutrophication issues). These tiny organisms are renowned as renewable, sustainable and valuable sources for bioactive substances, food ingredients and biofuel production, with great potentials in mitigation of elevated CO2 level and wastewater treatment/bioremediation. These traits constitute the research hardcore within our Microalgae Section at NIVA.

The Microalgae Section is proactively monitoring and analysing the phytoplankton community for the Norwegian Environment Agency, County Governors and Water Areas. We are regularly involved in mapping environmental impacts related to industry and business. Recently, the management-direct research in the Section has established a new alga R&D area at NIVA, to exploit the algal potentials for diverse commercial applications in Nordic region. At present, the Microalgae Section has possessed multidisciplinary expertise and research speciality in phytoplankton biology, ecology, taxonomy, genetics and applied biotechnology. We also have been developing a low-cost model of Algae R&D Facility in Solbergstrand (about 10,000L), a prototype demonstration system that deploys new cost-saving technologies to produce different algae based bioproducts.  

As a summary, our research focus areas include:

  • Microalgae isolation and collection
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Professional microalgae-microscopic analysis
  • Toxicity of cyanobacteria
  • Microalgae barcoding research
  • Nutrient bioremediation
  • Algal bioproducts development

Norwegian Culture Collections of Algae (NORCCA)

NIVA has a long tradition in scientific investigations with microalgae. The Microalgae Section has done extensive research on algae collection, identification, characteristics, growth conditions and also sequencing analysis. At present, NORCCA offers access to over 2000 high diverse strains of algae and possesses a large number of Nordic microalgae strains in conjunction of the University of Oslo (UiO). The collection of NORCCA plays a key role in ensuring biodiversity through ex situ conservation of singular organisms in culture. In addition to providing algae for research, education and businesses, NORCCA has joined and facilitated collaborations in a number of projects.

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Environmental Monitoring & Microalgae Ecotoxicity

The team has developed professional phytoplankton analysis techniques adapted to Norwegian waterways for national management assignments. The Section has worked with several projects related to EU Water Framework Directive, mainly development and intercalibration of methods for assessing good status in lakes based on phytoplankton as indicator group. The team has versatile expertise with microalgal ecology, algal taxonomy, calculation of biomass and limnology. Also the Section has a research profile in the interface between the ecology, phylogeny and toxicology of cyanobacteria and other benthic and planktic organisms in temperate and tropical regions.

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Microalgae Applied Biotechnology

For this new research area, the Microalgae Section will target research, development and implementation to utilise waste streams (water, CO2 and heat) for cost-effective algal biomass production. The research efforts will focus on algae strain enhancement, scale-up cultivation and biorefinery optimisation to target algae based bioproducts ranging from novel bio-fertiliser to high value biocompounds. Based on our new Algae R&D Facility, the overarching goal of our section is to develop an advanced algae platform to provide value-add research support for different industries (incl. municipal wastes water treatment, aquaculture, agriculture and metallurgical industry), with aims to promote the development of regional circular bioeconomy in a sustainable manner.

Last updated 13.10.2022