UV protective algae could be used as a sustainable alternative to sunscreen, research at Swansea University has discovered.
There are hopes microalgae, which cannot be seen by the naked eye, could replace synthetic sunscreens.
The natural products, found in the sea, have a high absorbance of damaging sun rays.
Dr Carole Llewellyn, who has led the research, said algae sunscreen would be better for the environment.
“What we found is that algae have their own process of protecting themselves against the damaging ultra-violet rays,” said Dr Llewellyn, an associate professor in applied aquatic bioscience.
“We’re really interested in finding out how they do this and applying it to products we want to use.
“There’s increasing evidence that some of the synthetic sunscreens are quite harmful to the environment when they wash off in the sea.
“Many sunscreens are produced from petroleum sources and the industry is looking for something more sustainable.”
Reuters innovation news article on using algal sunscreens as an alternative to synthetic sunblock, sometimes blamed for adverse effects on human skin. Featuring Dr Carole Llewellyn and Dr Alla Silkina.
in Journal of Applied Phycology the paper with the title:
Bioremediation efficacy—comparison of nutrient removal from an anaerobic digest waste-based medium by an algal consortium before and after cryopreservation
An algal consortium was isolated from an integrated steelmaking site at TATA Steel Strip Products Ltd. in Port Talbot, UK, and its bioremediation capacity tested. Excellent “bioremediation” was observed when the mixed culture was “applied” to diluted effluent from an enhanced anaerobic digestion plant at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water at Port Talbot, UK. After 5 days of cultivation in a 600-L photobioreactor, 99% of the total nitrogen (initial level, 4500 μmol L−1) and total phosphorus (initial level, 690.4 μmol L−1) were removed from the waste stream. The consortium was deposited in the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP), an international depository authority for microalgal patents, as CCAP 293/1. This material has been successfully cryopreserved using a two-step cryopreservation protocol with dimethyl sulphoxide (5% v/v) used as a cryoprotectant. On recovery of samples after 3 months storage at −196 °C, the specific bioremediation activity of the revived consortium was tested. The capacity of the revived culture to bioremediate effluent was not significantly different (p < 0.05) from a non-cryopreserved control, with 99% of total nitrogen and phosphorus remediated by day 4. Although non-axenic algal cultures have previously been cryopreserved, this is the first report of the successful cryopreservation of mixed algal consortium, with validation of its ability to bioremediate after thawing comparing non-cryopreserved cultures with a revived post-thaw algal consortium. The study also highlights the need to ensure the long-term security and the requirement to validate the functionality of conserved inocula with biotechnological/bioremediation potential.
During last week (13.02.17-17.02.17), part of Swansea University team of PhycoPigment project (Innovate Uk- Newton-CONACYT), Dr Claudio Fuentes-Grunewald and Dr Bob Lovitt visited INECOL and Tecnológico de Monterrey facilities in Mexico. It was the first face to face meeting with our Mexican colleagues and it was a great opportunity to discuss latest results of our experiments. Swansea University Team in this project Robert Bob W Lovitt, Carole A Llewellyn, Alla Silkina, Darren Oatley-Radcliffe Tecnológico de Monterrey colleagues Saul García @Gibran Aleman Nava, INECOL team @Eugenia Olguín
La Cité Nantes Events Center will host the 6th ISAP congress from the 18th to 23rd of June 2017 at Nantes (Western France).
“Previous ISAP Congresses have seen the role of applied algal biotechnology and their potential developed in a commercial, remedial or regulatory context. In 2017 the scope of the 6th edition of ISAP congress is to appreciate the huge phycological biodiversity and the diversity of its biotechnological applications through the prism of a new and promising industrial sector in full development. The Congress will include speakers and posters presentations, exhibitors and for the first time a BtoB session to meet the right partners.”
The early bird registration is now opened and will close on the 15th of March.
Taylor & Francis selected as a highlight a review published by Dr Carole Llewellyn (AlgaeWales team member) in the European Journal of Phycology on Cyanobacterial metabolites as a source of sunscreens and moisturizers.
The article is now trending and reviews the diverse beneficial impacts of cyanobacterial metabolites and emphasize on the many oppurtinuties to use these high value products in cosmetics which is a booming industry for the use of Algae.
You can read the full article here
The recognition that ultraviolet radiation has harmful effects on the skin has led to the commercial development of inorganic and synthetic organic UV filters that can reduce the negative effects of exposure to sunlight. In addition, moisturizing chemicals are extensively used in personal care products to improve the ability of skin to retain water. Whilst current UV filter and moisturizing chemicals have clear beneficial qualities, they may also have adverse effects such as contact sensitivity, oestrogenicity and even tumorigenic effects on human skin. Furthermore, the accumulation of these chemicals in the aquatic environment could be potentially harmful. Consequently, there is interest in exploiting safer alternatives derived from biological sources, especially from photosynthetic organisms such as cyanobacteria which have developed mechanisms for coping with high UV irradiation and desiccation. In order to overcome the detrimental effects of UV radiation, these microorganisms produce UV screening compounds such as mycosporine-like amino acids and scytonemin, which are good candidates as alternatives to current synthetic UV filters. In addition, extracellular substances produced by some extremophilic species living in hyper-arid habitats have a high water retention capacity and could be used in cosmetic products as moisturizers. In this review, we present an overview of the literature describing the potential of cyanobacterial metabolites as an alternative source for sunscreens and moisturizers.