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Special Issue "Microalgal Molecules and Enzymes"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Microbiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Assunta Saide
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Naples, Italy
Interests: Marine biotechnology, cellular biology, characterization of natural compounds, compound mechanism of action, cell cycle analysis, cell death, search bioactive molecules from microalgae, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory
Dr. Chiara Lauritano
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Naples, Italy
Interests: Drug discovery; marine biotechnology; microalgae; marine organism exploitation; gene mining; transcriptome analysis; enzyme; bioactivity screening; stress responses; biotechnological applications
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Microalgae are photosynthetic unicellular organisms that can be massively cultivated under controlled conditions in photobioreactors with relatively small quantities of micro- and macro-nutrients. Microalgae have been shown to be excellent sources of several bioactive molecules such as lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, pigments and a series of other compounds. Several studies have shown that microalgal raw extracts, fractions and pure compounds had biological activities, such as anticancer, anti-microbial, anti-epilepsy, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory activities. Microalgae are adapted to live in both marine and freshwater environments, as well as in extreme conditions. This capability results in a huge diversity of species, which can produce very different interesting natural products with industrial and pharmaceutical interest. Recent technologies have allowed to sequence genomes, metagenomes, transcriptomes, metatranscriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes of several microalgal species or pool of species, in silico identifying gene clusters involved in the synthesis of potentially bioactive compounds and helping in the discovery of new drugs from microalgae. These advances in –omics technologies applied to microalgae have allowed the identification of target enzymes, their heterologous expression and functional characterization. In addition microalgae are source of novel enzymes with industrial applications (e.g., lipids and biofuel production, healthcare, and bioremediation) and the modification of enzyme-coding sequences involved in lipid and carotenoid production has resulted in promising results. We would like to encourage the submission in this special issue “Microalgae molecules and enzymes” to collect recent original research and reviews in the field, highlighting microalgal bioactivities and potential development of new molecules and enzymes for biotechnological and industrial applications, such as pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical sectors.

Dr. Assunta Saide
Dr. Chiara Lauritano
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • Microalgae
  • Bioactive molecules
  • Gene expression
  • Drug discovery
  • Molecular mechanism
  • Gene mining
  • Enzymes
  • Industrial applications

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Molecular Mechanism of Lipid Accumulation and Metabolism of Oleaginous Chlorococcum sphacosum GD from Soil under Salt Stress
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1304; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031304 - 28 Jan 2021
Viewed by 520
Abstract
The oleaginous microalgae species Chlorococcum sphacosum GD is a promising feedstock for biodiesel production from soil. However, its metabolic mechanism of lipid production remains unclear. In this study, the lipid accumulation and metabolism mechanisms of Chlorococcum sphacosum GD were analyzed under salt stress [...] Read more.
The oleaginous microalgae species Chlorococcum sphacosum GD is a promising feedstock for biodiesel production from soil. However, its metabolic mechanism of lipid production remains unclear. In this study, the lipid accumulation and metabolism mechanisms of Chlorococcum sphacosum GD were analyzed under salt stress based on transcriptome sequencing. The biomass and lipid content of the alga strain were determined under different NaCl concentrations, and total RNA from fresh cells were isolated and sequenced by HiSeq 2000 high throughput sequencing technology. As the salt concentration increased in culture medium, the algal lipid content increased but the biomass decreased. Following transcriptome sequencing by assembly and splicing, 24,128 unigenes were annotated, with read lengths mostly distributed in the 200–300 bp interval. Statistically significant differentially expressed unigenes were observed in different experimental groups, with 2051 up-regulated genes and 1835 down-regulated genes. The lipid metabolism pathway analysis showed that, under salt stress, gene-related fatty acid biosynthesis (ACCase, KASII, KAR, HAD, FATA) was significantly up-regulated, but some gene-related fatty acid degradation was significantly down-regulated. The comprehensive results showed that salt concentration can affect the lipid accumulation and metabolism of C. sphacosum GD, and the lipid accumulation is closely related to the fatty acid synthesis pathway. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microalgal Molecules and Enzymes)
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Article
Establishment of a Genome Editing Tool Using CRISPR-Cas9 in Chlorella vulgaris UTEX395
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(2), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22020480 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1087
Abstract
To date, Chlorella vulgaris is the most used species of microalgae in the food and feed additive industries, and also considered as a feasible cell factory for bioproducts. However, the lack of an efficient genetic engineering tool makes it difficult to improve the [...] Read more.
To date, Chlorella vulgaris is the most used species of microalgae in the food and feed additive industries, and also considered as a feasible cell factory for bioproducts. However, the lack of an efficient genetic engineering tool makes it difficult to improve the physiological characteristics of this species. Therefore, the development of new strategic approaches such as genome editing is trying to overcome this hurdle in many research groups. In this study, the possibility of editing the genome of C. vulgaris UTEX395 using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein 9 (Cas9) has been proven to target nitrate reductase (NR) and adenine phosphoribosyltransferase (APT). Genome-edited mutants, nr and apt, were generated by a DNA-mediated and/or ribonucleoprotein (RNP)-mediated CRISPR-Cas9 system, and isolated based on the negative selection against potassium chlorate or 2-fluoroadenine in place of antibiotics. The null mutation of edited genes was demonstrated by the expression level of the correspondent proteins or the mutation of transcripts, and through growth analysis under specific nutrient conditions. In conclusion, this study offers relevant empirical evidence of the possibility of genome editing in C. vulgaris UTEX395 by CRISPR-Cas9 and the practical methods. Additionally, among the generated mutants, nr can provide an easier screening strategy during DNA transformation than the use of antibiotics owing to their auxotrophic characteristics. These results will be a cornerstone for further advancement of the genetics of C. vulgaris. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microalgal Molecules and Enzymes)
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Review

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Review
Unlocking the Health Potential of Microalgae as Sustainable Sources of Bioactive Compounds
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4383; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22094383 - 22 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 811
Abstract
Microalgae are known to produce a plethora of compounds derived from the primary and secondary metabolism. Different studies have shown that these compounds may have allelopathic, antimicrobial, and antipredator activities. In addition, in vitro and in vivo screenings have shown that several compounds [...] Read more.
Microalgae are known to produce a plethora of compounds derived from the primary and secondary metabolism. Different studies have shown that these compounds may have allelopathic, antimicrobial, and antipredator activities. In addition, in vitro and in vivo screenings have shown that several compounds have interesting bioactivities (such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimicrobial) for the possible prevention and treatment of human pathologies. Additionally, the enzymatic pathways responsible for the synthesis of these compounds, and the targets and mechanisms of their action have also been investigated for a few species. However, further research is necessary for their full exploitation and possible pharmaceutical and other industrial applications. Here, we review the current knowledge on the chemical characteristics, biological activities, mechanism of action, and the enzymes involved in the synthesis of microalgal metabolites with potential benefits for human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microalgal Molecules and Enzymes)
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Review
Fucoxanthin, a Marine-Derived Carotenoid from Brown Seaweeds and Microalgae: A Promising Bioactive Compound for Cancer Therapy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(23), 9273; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21239273 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1156
Abstract
Fucoxanthin is a well-known carotenoid of the xanthophyll family, mainly produced by marine organisms such as the macroalgae of the fucus genus or microalgae such as Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Fucoxanthin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties but also several anticancer effects. Fucoxanthin induces cell [...] Read more.
Fucoxanthin is a well-known carotenoid of the xanthophyll family, mainly produced by marine organisms such as the macroalgae of the fucus genus or microalgae such as Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Fucoxanthin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties but also several anticancer effects. Fucoxanthin induces cell growth arrest, apoptosis, and/or autophagy in several cancer cell lines as well as in animal models of cancer. Fucoxanthin treatment leads to the inhibition of metastasis-related migration, invasion, epithelial–mesenchymal transition, and angiogenesis. Fucoxanthin also affects the DNA repair pathways, which could be involved in the resistance phenotype of tumor cells. Moreover, combined treatments of fucoxanthin, or its metabolite fucoxanthinol, with usual anticancer treatments can support conventional therapeutic strategies by reducing drug resistance. This review focuses on the current knowledge of fucoxanthin with its potential anticancer properties, showing that fucoxanthin could be a promising compound for cancer therapy by acting on most of the classical hallmarks of tumor cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microalgal Molecules and Enzymes)
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