Special Issue "Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Cell Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2022) | Viewed by 8664

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Luca Forti
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Guest Editor
Department of Life Sciences, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via G. Campi 103, 41125 Modena, Italy
Interests: microalgae; plant communication; VOCs signaling; application of yeast in organic synthesis; biocatalysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Laura Arru
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita – Padiglione Besta, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via Amendola, 2 - 42122 Reggio Emilia, Italy
Interests: plant acoustics; plants effects on humans; microalgae
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Moreno Bondi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Life Sciences, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia , Via Campi 287, 41125 Modena, Italy
Interests: microorganisms; bacteriocins; antibiotic resistance
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Photosynthetic organisms are milestones in the history of life: in fact, that they made it possible to shape Earth's atmosphere as we know it today and they are at the basis of almost all food chains, therefore, in a certain sense, of life on Earth. From a human point of view, plants have provided material to build shelter and procure medicine, food, and, of course, oxygen. Microalgae and cyanobacteria provide us almost half the oxygen we breathe and absorb a quarter of the CO­2 produced by fossil fuels, and cyanobacteria are responsible for first introducing oxygen into the Earth’s anoxygenic atmosphere more than three billion years ago. Algae have often been associated with plants and classified accordingly, as they share some peculiar traits, and blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, have been considered close to microalgae, since they derive energy from sunlight, like algae and plants through photosynthesis. However, even if they possess the same chlorophyll pigment and produce carbon dioxide, they do not have a nuclear membrane and, therefore, they are prokaryotes. 

Cyanobacteria, microalgae, and plants are beneficial and promising organisms for the sustainable production of food, feed, materials, chemicals, and fuels. To reach sustainability, considerable attention must be given to both strains and cultivars and available and new tools.

From biology to biotechnology, research today should aim at eradicating hunger and illness in the world and at building a greener future. This Special Issue of Plants is focused on the most up-to-date research on these topics.

In this Special Issue, we would like to present original research articles and reviews related but not limited to:

- knowledge of and biotechnological applications for plant production, including specific aspects of sustainable agriculture and potential benefits to the environment and various other dimensions of human life

- bio-sequestration of CO2

- remediation of polluted waters/soils

- microalgal and cyanobacterial biomass and applications

Prof. Dr. Luca Forti
Prof. Dr. Laura Arru
Prof. Dr. Moreno Bondi
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. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Food
  • Green Chemistry
  • Applications
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • CO2 capture
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Microalgae
  • Biofuel
  • Bioproduction
  • Bioremediation
  • Biotechnology
  • Microorganisms
  • Plants
  • Biocatalysis
  • Commercial
  • Feedstock

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Bioremoval of Yttrium (III), Cerium (III), Europium (III), and Terbium (III) from Single and Quaternary Aqueous Solutions Using the Extremophile Galdieria sulphuraria (Galdieriaceae, Rhodophyta)
Plants 2022, 11(10), 1376; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11101376 - 22 May 2022
Viewed by 381
Abstract
The lanthanides are among the rare earth elements (REEs), which are indispensable constituents of modern technologies and are often challenging to acquire from natural resources. The demand for REEs is so high that there is a clear need to develop efficient and environmentally-friendly [...] Read more.
The lanthanides are among the rare earth elements (REEs), which are indispensable constituents of modern technologies and are often challenging to acquire from natural resources. The demand for REEs is so high that there is a clear need to develop efficient and environmentally-friendly recycling methods. In the present study, living cells of the extremophile Galdieria sulphuraria were used to remove four REEs, Yttrium, Cerium, Europium, and Terbium, from single- and quaternary-metal aqueous solutions. Two different strains, SAG 107.79 and ACUF 427, were exposed to solutions buffered at pH 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5. Our data demonstrated that the removal performances were strain and pH dependent for all metal ions. At lower pH, ACUF 427 outperformed SAG 107.79 considerably. By increasing the pH of the solutions, there was a significant surge in the aqueous removal performance of both strains. The same trend was highlighted using quaternary-metal solutions, even if the quantities of metal removed were significantly lower. The present study provided the first insight into the comparative removal capacity of the Galdieria sulphuraria strains. The choice of the appropriate operational conditions such as the pH of the metal solutions is an essential step in developing efficient, rapid, and straightforward biological methods for recycling REEs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Article
Growth Characteristics of Chlorella sorokiniana in a Photobioreactor during the Utilization of Different Forms of Nitrogen at Various Temperatures
Plants 2022, 11(8), 1086; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11081086 - 16 Apr 2022
Viewed by 472
Abstract
The cultivation of microalgae requires the selection of optimal parameters. In this work, the effect of various forms of nitrogen on the growth and productivity of Chlorella sorokiniana AM-02 when cultivated at different temperatures was evaluated. Regardless of the temperature conditions, the highest [...] Read more.
The cultivation of microalgae requires the selection of optimal parameters. In this work, the effect of various forms of nitrogen on the growth and productivity of Chlorella sorokiniana AM-02 when cultivated at different temperatures was evaluated. Regardless of the temperature conditions, the highest specific growth rate of 1.26 day−1 was observed in modified Bold’s basal medium (BBM) with NH4+ as a nitrogen source, while the highest specific growth rate in BBM with NO3 as a nitrogen source achieved only 1.07 day−1. Moreover, C. sorokiniana grew well in medium based on anaerobic digester effluent (ADE; after anaerobic digestion of chicken/cow manure) with the highest growth rate being 0.92 day−1. The accumulation of proteins in algal cells was comparable in all experiments and reached a maximum of 42% of dry weight. The biomass productivity reached 0.41–0.50 g L−1 day−1 when cultivated in BBM, whereas biomass productivity of 0.32–0.35 g L−1 day−1 was obtained in ADE-based medium. The results, based on a bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach, revealed the growth of various bacterial species in ADE-based medium in the presence of algal cells (their abundance varied depending on the temperature regimen). The results indicate that biomass from C. sorokiniana AM-02 may be sustainable for animal feed production considering the high protein yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Article
Growth Optimization and Secondary Metabolites Evaluation of Anabaena variabilis for Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition Activity
Plants 2022, 11(6), 735; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11060735 - 10 Mar 2022
Viewed by 619
Abstract
Cyanobacteria comprise a good natural resource of a potential variety of neuro-chemicals, including acetylcholinesterase inhibitors essential for Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Accordingly, eight different cyanobacterial species were isolated, identified, and evaluated on their growth on different standard nutrient media. It was found that the [...] Read more.
Cyanobacteria comprise a good natural resource of a potential variety of neuro-chemicals, including acetylcholinesterase inhibitors essential for Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Accordingly, eight different cyanobacterial species were isolated, identified, and evaluated on their growth on different standard nutrient media. It was found that the modified Navicula medium supported the highest growth of the test cyanobacteria. The effects of methylene chloride/methanol crude extracts of the test cyanobacteria on acetylcholinesterase activity were examined and compared. Anabaena variabilis (KU696637.1) crude extract recorded the highest acetylcholinesterase inhibition (62 ± 1.3%). Navicula medium chemical components were optimized through a Plackett–Burman factorial design. The biomass of Anabaena variabilis increased significantly when grown on the optimized medium compared to that of control. The chemical analysis of the fractions derived from Anabaena variabilis showed the presence of two compounds in significant amounts: the flavonoid 5,7-dihydroxy-2-phenyl-4H-chrome-4-one and the alkaloid 4-phenyl-2-(pyridin-3-yl) quinazoline. Molecular docking studies revealed that both compounds interact with the allosteric binding site of acetylcholinesterase at the periphery with π-π stackings with Tyr341 and Trp286 with good, predicted partition coefficient. The compounds obtained from this study open the door for promising drug candidates to treat Alzheimer’s disease for their better pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetic properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Article
Relationship between β-Carotene Accumulation and Geranylgeranyl Pyrophosphate Synthase in Different Species of Dunaliella
Plants 2022, 11(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11010027 - 22 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 870
Abstract
To study the relationship between β-carotene synthesis and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate synthase (GGPS) activity, 15 species of Dunaliella were used to determine the changes in photosynthetic pigment contents, chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, β-carotene content, and GGPS activity. By observing the morphology and size of 15 [...] Read more.
To study the relationship between β-carotene synthesis and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate synthase (GGPS) activity, 15 species of Dunaliella were used to determine the changes in photosynthetic pigment contents, chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, β-carotene content, and GGPS activity. By observing the morphology and size of 15 species of Dunaliella, D8 has the largest individual algal cell and D9 has the smallest individual. Growth was relatively slow during days one through seven. After about eight days, the cells entered the logarithmic growth period and grew rapidly to a high density. After about 45 days, they entered a mature period, and growth slowed down. The contents of chlorophyll, carotenoids, and β-carotene increased during growth. D1 has the highest accumulation of β-carotene, and GGPS enzyme activity has a positive linear relationship with the β-carotene synthesis content. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the GGPS proteins of the 15 species were highly homologous, and the GGPS protein was not part of the membrane. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Article
Evaluation of Cadmium Bioaccumulation-Related Physiological Effects in Salvinia biloba: An Insight towards Its Use as Pollutant Bioindicator in Water Reservoirs
Plants 2021, 10(12), 2679; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10122679 - 06 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 848
Abstract
Free-living macrophytes play an important role in the health of aquatic ecosystems. Therefore, the use of aquatic plants as metal biomonitors may be a suitable tool for the management of freshwater reservoirs. Hence, in this study, we assessed the effects of cadmium (Cd) [...] Read more.
Free-living macrophytes play an important role in the health of aquatic ecosystems. Therefore, the use of aquatic plants as metal biomonitors may be a suitable tool for the management of freshwater reservoirs. Hence, in this study, we assessed the effects of cadmium (Cd) in Salvinia biloba specimens collected from the Middle Paraná River during a 10-day experiment employing artificially contaminated water (100 μM Cd). S. biloba demonstrated a great ability for Cd bioaccumulation in both the root-like modified fronds (named “roots”) and the aerial leaf-like fronds (named “leaves”) of the plants. Additionally, Cd toxicity was determined by the quantification of photosynthetic pigments (chlorophylls a and b, and carotenoids), flavonoids, and soluble carbohydrate contents in S. biloba over time (1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 days). In general, deterioration was more pronounced in leaves than in roots, suggesting a greater implication of the former in long-term Cd sequestration in S. biloba. Deleterious effects in the appraised parameters were well correlated with the total amount of Cd accumulated in the leaves, and with the qualitative changes observed in the plants’ phenotype during the 10-day metal exposure assay. The flavonoids and carotenoids in leaves were highly affected by low Cd levels followed by root carbohydrates. In contrast, chlorophylls and root flavonoids were the least impacted physiological parameters. Therefore, our results demonstrate that S. biloba displays dissimilar organ-linked physiological responses to counteract Cd phytotoxicity and that these responses are also time-dependent. Though further research is needed, our work suggests that easy-handled physiological data obtained from autochthonous free-floating S. biloba specimens may be used as a valuable tool for metal-polluted water biomonitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Communication
Cyanidiophyceae (Rhodophyta) Tolerance to Precious Metals: Metabolic Response to Palladium and Gold
Plants 2021, 10(11), 2367; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10112367 - 03 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 619
Abstract
Polyextremophilic red algae, which belong to the class Cyanidiophyceae, are adapted to live in geothermal and volcanic sites. These sites often have very high concentrations of heavy and precious metals. In this study, we assessed the capacity of three strains of Galdieria [...] Read more.
Polyextremophilic red algae, which belong to the class Cyanidiophyceae, are adapted to live in geothermal and volcanic sites. These sites often have very high concentrations of heavy and precious metals. In this study, we assessed the capacity of three strains of Galdieria (G. maxima, G. sulphuraria, and G. phlegrea) and one strain of Cyanidiumcaldarium to tolerate different concentrations of precious metals, such as palladium (Cl4K2Pd) and gold (AuCl4K) by monitoring algal growths in cultures exposed to metals, and we investigated the algae potential oxidative stress induced by the metals. This work provides further understanding of metals responses in the Cyanidiophyceae, as this taxonomic class is developed as a biological refinement tool. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Article
Debottlenecking Thermophilic Cyanobacteria Cultivation and Harvesting through the Application of Inner-Light Photobioreactor and Chitosan
Plants 2021, 10(8), 1540; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10081540 - 27 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 951
Abstract
Thermophilic cyanobacteria are a low-carbon environmental resource with high potential thanks to their innate temperature tolerance and thermostable pigment, phycocyanin, which enhances light utilisation efficiency and generates a high-value product. However, large-scale cultivation and harvesting have always been bottlenecks in unicellular cyanobacteria cultivation [...] Read more.
Thermophilic cyanobacteria are a low-carbon environmental resource with high potential thanks to their innate temperature tolerance and thermostable pigment, phycocyanin, which enhances light utilisation efficiency and generates a high-value product. However, large-scale cultivation and harvesting have always been bottlenecks in unicellular cyanobacteria cultivation due to their micrometric size. In this study, a 40-litre inner-light photobioreactor (PBR) was designed for scaled-up cultivation of Thermosynechococcus elongatus E542. By analysing light transmission and attenuation in the PBR and describing it via mathematical models, the supply of light energy to the reactor was optimised. It was found that the hyperbolic model describes the light attenuation characteristics of the cyanobacterial culture more accurately than the Lambert–Beer model. The internal illumination mode was applied for strain cultivation and showed a two-fold better growth rate and four-fold higher biomass concentration than the same strain grown in an externally illuminated photobioreactor. Finally, the downstream harvesting process was explored. A mixture of chitosan solutions was used as a flocculant to facilitate biomass collection. The effect of the following parameters on biomass harvesting was analysed: solution concentration, flocculation time and flocculant concentration. The analysis revealed that a 4 mg L−1 chitosan solution is optimal for harvesting the strain. The proposed solutions can improve large-scale cyanobacterial biomass cultivation and processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Review

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Review
Algae: Study of Edible and Biologically Active Fractions, Their Properties and Applications
Plants 2022, 11(6), 780; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11060780 - 15 Mar 2022
Viewed by 968
Abstract
The beneficial properties of algae make them perfect functional ingredients for food products. Algae have a high energy value and are a source of biologically active substances, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and macro- and microelements. They are also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, [...] Read more.
The beneficial properties of algae make them perfect functional ingredients for food products. Algae have a high energy value and are a source of biologically active substances, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and macro- and microelements. They are also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, proteins, mycosporine-like amino acids, polysaccharides, polyphenols, carotenoids, sterols, steroids, lectins, halogenated compounds, polyketides, alkaloids, and carrageenans. Different extraction parameters are used depending on the purpose and the substances to be isolated. In this study, the following parameters were used: hydromodule 1:10 and an extraction duration of 1–2 h at the extraction temperature of 25–40 °C. A 30–50% solution of ethanol in water was used as an extractant. Algae extracts can be considered as potential natural sources of biologically active compounds with antimicrobial activity and antiviral properties. The content of crude protein, crude fat, and carbohydrates in U. Prolifera, C. racemosa var. peltata (Chlorophyta), S. oligocystum and S. fusiforme (SF-1) was studied. It was found that C. muelleri (Bacillariophyta), I. galbana (Haptophyta), and T. weissflogii (Bacillariophyta) contain about 1.9 times more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids. N. gaditana (Ochrophyta), D. salina (Chlorophyta), P. tricornutum (Bacillaryophyta) and I. galbana (Haptophyta) extracts showed inhibitory activity of varying intensities against E. coli or P. aeruginosa. In addition, algae and algae-derived compounds have been proposed to offer attractive possibilities in the food industry, especially in the meat sector, to evolve functional foods with myriad functionalities. Algae can increase the biological activity of food products, while the further study of the structure of compounds found in algae can broaden their future application possibilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
Review
Uncovering Research Trends of Phycobiliproteins Using Bibliometric Approach
Plants 2021, 10(11), 2358; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10112358 - 01 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 923
Abstract
Phycobiliproteins are gaining popularity as long-term, high-value natural products which can be alternatives to synthetic products. This study analyzed research trends of phycobiliproteins from 1909 to 2020 using a bibliometric approach based on the Scopus database. The current findings showed that phycobiliprotein is [...] Read more.
Phycobiliproteins are gaining popularity as long-term, high-value natural products which can be alternatives to synthetic products. This study analyzed research trends of phycobiliproteins from 1909 to 2020 using a bibliometric approach based on the Scopus database. The current findings showed that phycobiliprotein is a burgeoning field in terms of publications outputs with “biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology” as the most related and focused subject. The Journal of Applied Phycology was the most productive journal in publishing articles on phycobiliproteins. Although the United States of America (U.S.A.) contributed the most publications on phycobiliproteins, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (China) is the institution with the largest number of publications. The most productive author on phycobiliproteins was Glazer, Alexander N. (U.S.A.). The U.S.A. and Germany were at the forefront of international collaboration in this field. According to the keyword analysis, the most explored theme was the optimization of microalgae culture parameters and phycobiliproteins extraction methods. The bioactivity properties and extraction of phycobiliproteins were identified as future research priorities. Synechococcus and Arthrospira were the most cited genera. This study serves as an initial step in fortifying the phycobiliproteins market, which is expected to exponentially expand in the future. Moreover, further research and global collaboration are necessary to commercialize phycobiliproteins and increase the consumer acceptability of the pigments and their products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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Review
Extremophilic Microalgae Galdieria Gen. for Urban Wastewater Treatment: Current State, the Case of “POWER” System, and Future Prospects
Plants 2021, 10(11), 2343; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10112343 - 29 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 830
Abstract
Over the past decades, wastewater research has increasingly focused on the use of microalgae as a tool to remove contaminants, entrapping nutrients, and whose biomass could provide both material and energy resources. This review covers the advances in the emerging research on the [...] Read more.
Over the past decades, wastewater research has increasingly focused on the use of microalgae as a tool to remove contaminants, entrapping nutrients, and whose biomass could provide both material and energy resources. This review covers the advances in the emerging research on the use in wastewater sector of thermoacidophilic, low-lipid microalgae of the genus Galdieria, which exhibit high content of protein, reserve carbohydrates, and other potentially extractable high-value compounds. The natural tolerance of Galdieria for high toxic environments and hot climates recently made it a key player in a single-step process for municipal wastewater treatment, biomass cultivation and production of energetic compounds using hydrothermal liquefaction. In this system developed in New Mexico, Galdieria proved to be a highly performing organism, able to restore the composition of the effluent to the standards required by the current legislation for the discharge of treated wastewater. Future research efforts should focus on the implementation, in the context of wastewater treatment, of more energetically efficient cultivation systems, potentially capable of generating water with increasingly higher purity levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacteria, Algae, and Plants; from Biology to Biotechnology)
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