The Bioactivity and Chemotaxonomy of Microalgal Carotenoids

  • Dónal Mc GeeEmail author
  • Eoin Gillespie
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 24)


Microalgae are a diverse group of photosynthetic microorganisms which inhabit a wide variety of freshwater and marine environments. They play a key role in the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles and hold great potential for their application in the fields of environmental remediation, biotechnology and nanotechnology. The bioactivity of carotenoids warrants their applications as nutraceuticals, cosmaceuticals or biopharmaceuticals in the treatment and prevention of chronic and age-related diseases. Their photosynthetic pigment signatures are typically taxon-specific, facilitating their application as chemotaxonomic biomarkers and provide a complementary approach to the morphogenetic taxonomy in the characterisation of new strains. This chapter provides a brief overview of carotenoids structural diversity, their bioactivity and biosynthesis. In addition, it aims to introduce the endosymbiotic theory of protist evolution which gave rise to 11 algal divisions. At present, there are 27 reported classes of photosynthetic algae representing 44 pigment types based on the distribution of their chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments.


Microalgae Phylogeny Chemotaxonomy Pigment types Carotenoids Antioxidants Nutraceuticals Biopharmaceuticals 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, School of Science, CERIS, Centre for Environmental Research, Innovation and SustainabilityInstitute of Technology SligoSligoIreland

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