Algae is the future’s sustainable super crop

State of Green
By Charlotte Gjedde , July 28, 2017

Research in algae makes it clear, that the green plants and crops have a great potential in the sustainable production of everything from food to medicine.

Research in these is years looking into the development of crops, that only require sun, CO2 and saltwater to grow, growing many times faster than other traditional crops. This new ‘super-crop’ can at the same time produce be used for the production of food, medicine, vitamins and colour dyes. On of the researchers investigating the use of the super crop is the Danish researcher Johan Andersen-Ranberg, looking on how algae can be used to create dyes for food products.
‘Biological dyes for food production is a large industry in e.g. Denmark, where Danish companies are among the world’s leading producers. Currently, a large part of the production through chemical synthesis, which is why many Danish companies have showed a great interest in using micro organisms to replace the chemical production with a biological one’, says Johan Andersen-Ranberg.

Fast-growing and ideal for sustainable production

Algae grow much faster than, for example, wheat and barley. According to Johan Andersen-Ranberg, algae is therefore ideal for the development of sustainable production methods.

– “Denmark is the leading country in biotechnology and modifying organisms to produce different substances that are commercially interesting, including medicines, proteins, food, laundry powder enzymes and so forth.”

Therefore, Johan Andersen-Ranberg believes that in Denmark there is a potential to become a pioneer country in sustainable production of natural products in algae in greenhouses.

– “It will greatly increase the value of our agriculture to produce high value products in algae relative to wheat and barley, which can be grown cheaper elsewhere here on Earth,” says Johan Andersen-Ranberg.

Plants can become more effective in transforming the sun’s energy

Johan Andersen-Ranberg is also seeking to characterize the algae and identify how grow best and what their particular characteristics are. The purpose is to find out how to make the algae an economically attractive crop by ensuring high production of carotene.

– “There is such a high potential in this super-organism. If we can take advantage of these opportunities, we can, in a short period of time, provide completely new climate-friendly production systems that are commercially interesting and can create new types of jobs in agriculture.” explains Johan Andersen-Ranberg.


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