Prof. Sammy Boussiba - Head

The overall aim of research in the Microalgal Biotechnology Laboratory (MBL) is to develop the biotechnology involved in mass production of microalgae for various commercial purposes, utilizing the high temperature, brackish or sea water, and solar irradiance that abound year round in the desert.

Research in our group is targeted to the following topics: Search for natural products with particular interest in the red pigment astaxanthin used in aquaculture, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, mainly arachidonic and eicosapentaenoic acids, used in infant nutrition as well as for various pharmaceutical preparations. We study their biosynthesis and their productivity in the laboratory as well as in mass cultures outdoors.

Another field of investigation concerns studying the limiting factors governing biomass production in outdoor culture. Special emphasis is given to the effect of high light and its interaction with other environmental limitations. The potential applications of N2-fixing cyanobacteria is also receiving attention: Research is focused on the application of N2-fixing cyanobacteria as biological vectors to encounter environmental problems.

Our research efforts include work on developing suitable photobioreactors for mass cultivation of photoautotrophic microorganisms. Our premise is that once efficient photobioreactors are available, microalgal biotechnology will assume its full, promising potential.