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Algae are the fastest-growing plant organisms in nature and are a great source of proteins. Algae grow anywhere —often in vertical fermentation tanks— without using large amounts of land or water. Additionally, algae are a diverse group of unicellular-to-multicellular organisms with simple structures and strong adaptability to different environments. They produce many bioactive components, some of which have found uncountable applications in various industries. In current experiments, lab-grown algal-based food does not negatively impact the environment nor produce residual waste.
A commonly harvested algae protein type includes Chlorella vulgaris in white, yellow, and lime colors, known as Chlorella colors. Although widely used in Asian countries, algae protein adoption worldwide is expanding gradually yet consistently. Commercial uses include protein fortification in cereals, bakery products, ready-to-mix powders, and products like plant-based cheeses and yogurts.
Latest developments are driving algae protein to enter the healthcare sector, which has broad implications in the long term. In recent years, dried algal biomass and algal-derived bioactive compounds, including fatty acids, polysaccharides, carotenoids, and many more, have been concerned in the application of natural pharmaceuticals. Sargassum fusiforme (Phaeophyceae), one of the most popular macroalgae species in the research field of pharmaceuticals, is being studied to treat tumor and neck mass, as well as other diverse diseases. Even if promising, to implement algae in medicine successfully, some research and technical bottlenecks still need to be resolved for further practical use.