Algae group - University of Helsinki
Department of Environmental Sciences
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Our research covers basic algal ecology as well as utilization of algae in the field of biotechnology and biorefineries.

In ecology we concentrate on the role of phytoplankton in aquatic food webs, especially in boreal lakes. We are interested in their own nutrition, i.e. phototrophy, mixotrophy and heterotrophy, as well as their quality as food for higher trophic levels. Our food web research includes both phytoplankton-based 'grazer chain' and bacteria-based 'microbial loop', and the interactions between these two. The boreal lakes are characterized by heavy loadings of terrestrial organic matter, which affects phytoplankton and the whole food web. Thus, we are also interested in the biogoechemical cycles of carbon and its release into the atmosphere.

In applied research our recent projects have concentrated on testing the suitability of several types of industrial side streams on algal cultivation, and up-scaling the cultivation in small pilot scale photobioreactors (200L). Our main interest is the utilization of industrial side streams as substrates for algal growth, and the optimization of biomass production as well as the biochemical composition of the biomass. We have especially focused on the production of omega-3-fatty acids and carotenoids, which can be utilized in food, feed and cosmetic industry. We have excellent laboratory facilities for algal cultivation, extraction of bioactive compounds as well as analytics.