The Bright Side of Cyanobacteria: Revising the Nuisance Potential and Prospecting Innovative Biotechnology-Based Solutions to Integrate Water Management Programs


Global warming and the anthropogenic degradation of water quality are pointed out as main causes of the worldwide increase in frequency, severity, and duration of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Cyanobacteria, major constituents of HABs, can cause ecological, economic, and human health problems, configuring a dark side requiring management attention. Their growth can be potentiated by climate change consequences, highlighting further the urgency of improving HABs management strategies to ensure water quality. An innovative perspective for cyanobacteria management is the exploitation of their bright side. Several exploitable products produced by cyanobacteria (e.g., bioactive pigments, lipids, proteins) present high market value. Thus, this work provides a critical perspective on how HABs management may be connected with biotechnology in the future. We propose the use of the biomass of cyanobacteria blooms physically removed in traditional control actions (much needed to ensure environmental and even human health safety) as a feedstock for future valorization, thus allying profit to water quality management, in a win-win relationship between economics and environmental sustainability. Such a proposal was validated with an economic analysis, which evidenced a relevant potential for a positive return (hence rendering profit likely to occur), both considering only the delivery of harvested biomass to production units and the full valuation route from harvesting to the selling of the extracted/purified product using phycocyanin as a model.



subject category

Chemistry, Multidisciplinary; Green & Sustainable Science & Technology; Engineering, Chemical


Macario, IPE; Ventura, SPM; Goncalves, FJM; Torres-Acosta, MA; Pereira, JL

our authors


This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, Grants UIDB/50011/2020 and UIDP/50011/2020, financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC and when appropriate cofinanced by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement. Thanks are due to FCT/MCTES for the financial support to CESAM (Grants UIDP/50017/2020 and UIDB/50017/2020), through national funds. The authors also thank FCT for the Project Reference No. PTDC/BTA-BTA/30914/2017. J. L. Pereira was funded by national funds (OE) through FCT, under a framework contract (art. 23, Decree-Law 57/2016, changed by Law 57/2017). I. P. E. Macario is the recipient of an individual research grant by FCT financed by the FCT/MEC and cofinanced by the FEDER program (Grant SFRH/BD/123850/2016).

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