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Prospection and physiology of Brazilian microalgae: biochemical potential, biological activity and metabolomic analysis

Grant number: 20/12508-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2020
Effective date (End): October 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany - Applied Botany
Principal Investigator:Ana Teresa Lombardi
Grantee:Lucas Santos Solidade
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:18/07988-5 - Bioprospecting, characterization and optimization of Brazilian microalgal strains for CO2 biofixation and bioproducts of commercial importance, AP.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):22/06191-1 - Prospection of metabolites with anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetes and antisteatosis activity in extracts of Brazilian freshwater microalgae, BE.EP.DD


Microalgae are a diverse group of photosynthetic organisms. They have gained attention in industry as they combine photosynthetic efficiency with rapid growth and production of primary and secondary metabolites. Primary metabolites (carbohydrates, lipids and proteins) are essential for cell functioning; secondary metabolites are not essential, but evolutionary advantages have been shown in their presence. Both have extensive applications in food, environmental and pharmaceutical industries. In this research we intend to identify strains of microalgae with notable production of primary metabolites and identify secondary metabolites with biological activity, in addition to promising strains for CO2 fixation. For this we will use Brazilian microalgae strains that will be grown under controlled laboratory scale cultures. Exponentially growing cells will be quantified for gross primary production (CO2 fixation) through photosynthetic evaluation (PhytoPAM) and primary metabolites. The secondary metabolites will be obtained from organic extracts made at the beginning of the stationary growth phase. Extracts from ~ 70 species of microalgae will be obtained and tested for antimicrobial and antioxidant activities, and total polyphenol content. Antimicrobial activity will be tested against strains of medical relevance including antiviral activity to the new Coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2). The extracts will be characterized by mass spectrometry and analyzed by untargeted metabolomics technique, by which we will establish relationships between chemical structures and biological activity. The antiviral potential will be evaluated in collaboration with the specialized laboratory coordenated be Profa. Dra. Clarice Arns (UNICAMP); the metabolomics study will be performed using the BEPE opportunity, possibly in Canada. This is based on molecules already described, accelerating the search for new molecules. We hope to expand the knowledge about the chemical diversity of Brazilian microalgae, contribute to scientific knowledge and possibly find new molecules with pharmacological applications that can be patentable. (AU)

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