Eliciting specialized metabolites from marine microalgae using abiotic stress

Hughes, Alison H. and Duncan, Katherine R. (2024) Eliciting specialized metabolites from marine microalgae using abiotic stress. Applied Phycology, 5 (1). pp. 1-11. ISSN 2638-8081 (https://doi.org/10.1080/26388081.2023.2280928)

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Advanced mass spectrometry and molecular networking techniques have led to an increase in the discovery of novel metabolites from bacteria and fungi. However, a systematic approach to exploring the metabolite profiles of microalgae in response to stress has not been performed. Unlocking the chemical potential of microalgae could provide further biotechnology applications in nutraceutical, biofuel, and cosmetic industries. This study explored the changes in metabolite production of strains of the three microalgae Dunaliella primolecta, Nannochloropsis oculata, and Phaeodactylum tricornutum cultured under varying nitrate, NaCl, salinity and pH conditions. A total of 2284 metabolites were detected across all strains and conditions, with 49% of those metabolites specific to cultures grown under stress (i.e., not present in the control). From comparison with 33 libraries of mass spectral data, only five metabolites were identified, stressing the need for more open-access natural product databases specifically focused on microalgae.