Industrial microalgae, as a big family of promising producers of renewable biomass feedstock, have been commercially exploited for functional food, living feed and feed additives, high-value chemicals in nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, and chemical reagents. Recently, microalgae have also been considered as a group that might play an important role in biofuel development and environmental protection. Almost all current products of industrial microalgae are derived from their biomass; however, large amounts of spent cell-free media are available from mass cultivation that is mostly unexploited. In this contribution we discuss that these media, which may contain a remarkable diversity of bioactive substances are worthy to be recovered for further use. Obviously, the extracellular metabolites from industrial microalgae have long been neglected in the development of production methods for valuable metabolites. With the advances in the last ten years, more and more structures and properties from extracellular metabolites have been identified, and the potential utilization over wide fields is attracting attention. Some of these extracellular metabolites can be potentially used as drugs, antioxidants, growth regulators or metal chelators. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the known extracellular metabolites from industrial microalgae which might be of commercial interest. The attention mainly focuses on the reports of extracellular bioactive metabolites and their potential application in biotechnology.
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