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.
The Microalgae Section is proactively monitoring and analysing the phytoplankton community for the Environment Directorate, County Governors and Water Areas, and regularly involved in mapping environmental impacts related to industry and business. Recently, the management-direct research in the section has established a unique and new alga R&D area at NIVA, to pursue the industrial applications of microalgae in the Nordic environment. At present, the Microalgae section has multidisciplinary expertise and research speciality in phytoplankton biology, ecology, taxonomy, genetics and applied biotechnology.
Our research focus areas include:
• Microalgae isolation and collection
• Environmental monitoring
• Professional microalgae-microscopic analysis
• Toxicity of cyanobacteria
• Microalgae metabarcoding 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 applications. At present, NORCCA offers access to over 2000 high diverse strains of algae and possesses a large number of Nordic microalgae strains. 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.
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.
Microalgae Applied Biotechnology
For this new research area, the Microalgae section will target research, development and implementations to integrate industry waste streams for cost-effective algal biomass production at a scale that is relevant to industry. The research efforts also will focus on biorefinery process development to target the isolation, purification, and applications of value-adding end-use algal products ranging from novel bio-fertiliser to animal feeds, based on a broad professional network. The overarching goal is to develop an advanced algae platform to value-add to the treatment of discharge water for municipal wastes water treatment, aquaculture, agriculture and metallurgical industry.